Ex-N Brown chief builds Studio Retail data operation

gareth powellStudio Retail Group, the online and catalogue shopping company which sells clothing, greeting cards, gifts, and home and garden items, has boosted its data strategy with the establishment of a 35-strong team under former N Brown and TalkTalk chief Gareth Powell.

Powell spent nearly 18 years at N Brown, ultimately as director of data science, and played a major role in the former catalogue giant’s digital and data transformation. He joined Studio in June last year following an 18-month spell as insight and analytics director at TalkTalk.

Initially taking on the role of head of enterprise data products and insight, Powell became director of data in October last year. The new division, which pools Studio’s analytics, data governance, data engineering and architecture staff, has been boosted ten additional team members.

The online value retailer is also investing in data technologies, including Snowflake and Microsoft Azure.

Powell is implementing a major data programme, comprising several key elements, including a target operating model, a data governance framework, an approach for data integrity as well as a new cloud data platform (Snowflake and Azure).

Powell said:“Since joining Studio in June we have been on an exciting journey as a business. My vision is to make data and insights easy to access for our employees. A positive customer experience is underpinned by easy-to-access and good quality insight.

“We have successfully embedded a hub and spoke model for analytics which ensures we have close insight partnerships with our customer and digital, trading and customer experience teams, ensuring we use data in the most efficient way possible.”

The online retailer was founded in Accrington, Lancashire in 1955 as a greeting card company and following a number of mergers and acquisitions became Findel PLC in 2000. The catalogue arm then became Express Gifts but rebranded once more in 2018 as Studio Retail.

Studio recently reported having over 2 million active customers – a 79% increase over the last five years – with its online operation accounting for 1.2 million of them.

Studio chief executive Paul Kendrick said: “Gareth has a proven track record in data management, his skills are therefore pivotal to our ambitious plans to utilise data to grow and expand the business.

“We have already seen fantastic results from Gareth and look forward to seeing what he brings to an already strong leadership team on the challenging journey we have ahead of us.”

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