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Shop Direct appoints Rank Group's Henry Birch as CEO

Lauretta Roberts
07 March 2018

Shop Direct, parent of Littlewoods.com, Very.co.uk and VeryExclusive.com, has appointed Rank Group CEO Henry Birch as its group CEO and he will join the online shopping giant later this year.

Birch will replace interim CEO Derek Harding, who has been holding the fort since the departure of Alex Baldock in January who left to become CEO of Dixons Carphone Warehouse. When Birch joins Harding will resume his role of group finance director.

FTSE 250-listed Rank Group owns and operates Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo alongside several European gaming and casino businesses and Birch has been its CEO since 2014. Prior to joining Rank, Birch spent four years as CEO of William Hill Online, where he launched the company’s mobile business, driving 170% growth in revenue and more than doubling operating profit.

Mobile has been central to the success of Shop Direct in recent years. In a trading update in January, the group revealed that sales had increased 6.3% in the six weeks to 22 December 2016 and that mobile had accounted for 73% of sales during that period.

Prior to joining William Hill, Birch previously held management roles at Leisure & Gaming plc, BettingCorp, Time Warner, Turner Broadcasting and Riffage, an early digital music operator based in Silicon Valley. He started his career working in the House of Commons and holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Of his appointment he said: "I’m thrilled to be joining as unique and ambitious a business as Shop Direct. The company has been through an extraordinarily rapid and successful transformation over the last five years and flatly refuses to slow down. I’m looking forward to driving continued growth as Shop Direct continues to outpace its competition, and am excited to join the team to carve out the next chapter.”

Shop Direct chairman Aidan Barclay said: "Henry is an experienced CEO and an exceptional leader. From both Rank Group and William Hill Online, he brings a track record of reshaping businesses to become more customer-focused, data-driven and technology-enabled while simultaneously driving outstanding financial performance. We’re delighted to attract somebody of Henry’s calibre and very much look forward to working with him as we continue the digital transformation of Shop Direct.

“Separately, I’d like to thank Derek Harding for the superb job he’s done of leading Shop Direct over the last few months. Derek will continue to drive the business forward as interim CEO until Henry arrives, and we look forward to continuing to work with him as group finance director thereafter.”


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