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Shop Direct appoints Boots exec as group trading director

Shop Direct has appointed Guy Farmer as group trading director, and will join the business in September and report to managing director for retail Sam Perkins.

Farmer is currently vice president and global retail own brand director at Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). During eight years at WBA, Farmer has led a 155-strong team and set up a global centre of excellence for the development of WBA’s own brand business.

At WBA he has also held the roles of global director for Boots cosmetics brands, trading director for healthcare and lifestyle, and trading director for beauty. He also previously spent 13 years at L’Oréal, progressing from marketing director to managing director and country manager for Portugal, following six years in brand and category management positions at Procter and Gamble.

At Shop Direct, he will work with category directors and the director of the company’s global sourcing operation to oversee multifunctional teams including buying, merchandising, design, sourcing, data intelligence, finance and trading.

The combination of these previously separate functions into category teams is a new approach from Shop Direct which it began last year with the appointment of fashion, home, electrical and developing category directors.

Shop Direct said the change has helped to generate a “strong set of results”, including a successful peak period which saw group revenue up 3.7% year-on-year for the seven weeks up to and including 28 December 2018.

The company also revealed Carly O’Brien, who joined the business in early 2019 and has been interim CMO since April, will take over the role permanently.

She has 18 years’ customer management and financial services experience, most recently as marketing director at Virgin Money Digital Bank. She was previously head of customer acquisition marketing for current accounts at Royal Bank of Scotland and head of marketing at Bank of America. Her appointment as CMO shows Shop Direct’s ambition to use its rich data in new ways to create an even better customer experience.

Perkins said: “Guy’s and Carly’s expertise will allow us to make big steps forward in our mission to give customers the best products and online journey, whilst helping them spread the cost.

“Guy’s outstanding trading and product experience means he’s ideally placed to cement our category management approach and even further improve the speed and quality of our commercial and customer decisions. Carly is already an integral part of the team and will use her marketing expertise to bring us closer to our customers through data and enable them to connect with our retail brands in new ways.”

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