House of Fraser is the latest retailer to look outside retail for talent, having turned to the US financial industry for a high-level digital recruit.

House of Fraser is the latest retailer to look outside of retail for digital talent, having turned to the US financial industry for a recent high-level digital recruit.

It announced this week that Mark Madden, the Ministry of Justice’s former head of digital, has joined the business as director of digital products.

The appointment came shortly after Tesco announced in June that its new chief technology officer Edmond Mesrobian was joining from the US, where he worked at Expedia.

This is not a new trend – John Lewis, for instance, turned to the airline industry back in 2011 when it appointed chief information officer Paul Coby, who joined from British Airways – but it is one that has picked up in pace in recent months.

Madden will report into Andy Harding at House of Fraser, who is chief customer officer – another relatively new job title that has grown in popularity over the past couple of years.

Retailers are clearly looking outside of their own circles to find talent, in a bid to give their businesses a jolt and to help change their internal culture.

The ecommerce and IT pool of talent in retail was in danger of becoming limited, and it’s interesting to see retailers taking a punt on people with different backgrounds who will bring both new challenges and new ideas to the table.

It does present more of a challenge for those doing the recruiting, however, and it means that senior management will need to expand their networking and recruitment efforts to find those with fresh ideas and approaches who might be hiding out of sight in different industries or countries.

As with many projects at retailers working to transform their offer, recruiting in a digital age requires an imaginative approach and a willingness to consider new ideas. It may also take a bit of trial and error. But as with other areas of digital retailing, the potential benefits are a better working culture, an evolved proposition and eventually higher growth and sales.