Managing director, Amazon UK

Chris North

Chris North only took the top seat at Amazon’s UK office at the turn of the year but what a year it’s been.

The new boss, who was previously vice-president of media in the UK for the online giant, has overseen high-profile acquisitions such as Lovefilm and The Book Depository and has guided the retailer’s move into physical retail with the launch of collection lockers in London shopping centres and office blocks.

North was tipped for big things at Amazon long before Brian McBride’s shock departure earlier this year, with last year’s Etail Power List pinpointing him as one to watch.

The native New Yorker made the journey to Slough over five years ago following stints at Harper Collins and uber-stylish Phaidon, publisher of art, design and architecture books.

North is viewed as one of the most outgoing characters in the traditionally low-profile world of Amazon and was often used as a spokesman for the UK business in his previous role as vice-president for media. His appointment was said to be a popular one internally.

Those who know him say he is a perfect fit for the top job at the online giant and his publishing experience clearly plays to Amazon’s heartland of books.

But it’s not just Amazon’s books division that North is looking to grow. The retailer is gunning to grab share outside its core product categories as North aims to make Amazon the site “where you can buy anything”, a statement which will send shivers down the spines of many retailers.

He is eyeing launches of ever-more categories and has already launched into lingerie this year.

Amazon UK is in “growth mode” according to its managing director and is adding 200 staff to head office this year in preparation for the surge, a feat few retailers will be able to emulate during these tough times.