Dixons Carphone is banking on a data-centric strategy to reverse its slump after hiring the man credited with turning home shopping group Shop Direct from a struggling catalogue business into one of the UK’s largest online retailers.
The group can trace its roots back to old school catalogue giants Littlewoods and Great Universal Stores, which were bought by the Barclay brothers in 2003.
Alex Baldock has been chief executive of Shop Direct since 2012, and during his tenure he ditched printed catalogues and invested heavily in technology and data to boost personalisation techniques to attract and retain customers. Shop Direct had revenues of £1.86bn in 2016.
At Dixons Carphone, Baldock succeeds Sebastian James, who is joining Boots later in the year. According to a report in The Sunday Times, Dixons Carphone chairman Ian Livingston described Baldock’s revival of Shop Direct as “one of UK retail’s fastest, most far reaching and most successful digital transformations”.
Dixons Carphone has already made a start on its data transformation; in 2014 it implemented an analytics platform and late last year it appointed retail marketing specialist Ecrebo to a five-year contract to boost consumer targeting and personalisation. However, this has only scratched the surface.
Ecrebo – which is backed by Air Miles and Nectar chief Sir Keith Mills and counts M&S and Waitrose among its clients – will upgrade the retailer’s point of sale coupon programme by implementing the firm’s ‘Message at Till’ solution across all 450 of its megastores. Its brands include Currys, PC World, Team Knowhow and Carphone Warehouse.
But it is the firm’s mobile phone business which will be at the heart of the turnaround plan, amid reports that it is proposing to scale back its 700-strong chain of Carphone Warehouse outlets and move more business online. Last week, the company hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons after being fined £400,000 for a 2015 data breach.
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