Nursery Today magazine

New CEO at Shop Direct

Rank Group boss Henry Birch to be new chief executive.

Shop Direct, the UK’s second largest pureplay retailer, which operates digital department stores Very.co.uk, Littlewoods.com and VeryExclusive.co.uk, has appointed Henry Birch to the role of group chief executive. He will join Shop Direct later this year.

Henry is currently chief executive officer of FTSE 250-listed Rank Group plc, which owns and operates Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo alongside several European gaming and casino businesses.

Henry has been chief executive of Rank Group since 2014, leading the business through a wide-reaching strategic overhaul to create the UK’s largest multichannel gaming operator. Rank Group now has a fast-growing digital core with revenues up 15% and profits up 60% in the last year alone.

Prior to joining Rank, Henry 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.

He 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.

At Shop Direct, Henry will take the reins from interim CEO and group finance director, Derek Harding.

Henry Birch 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.”

Aidan Barclay, Chairman of Shop Direct, 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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