Maplin has poached a senior Comet executive to become its first multichannel director as it bolsters its top team ahead of an eventual sale.

Ryan Thomas will join the electricals retailer in June to steer its multichannel strategy. Maplin aims to turn around its fortunes online after periods of underperformance.

Thomas, the former head of marketing and direct channels at Comet, will report directly to chief executive John Cleland.

Former Somerfield managing director Cleland took up the Maplin role in March, rejoining serial dealmaker and former Somerfield chairman John Lovering, who is chairman of Maplin.

The reunion of the retail bosses sparked speculation that Maplin is laying the ground for a sale again after its owners, private equity firm Montagu, shelved plans last year.

Thomas’ appointment is part of Maplin’s plan to expand its web business over the next three years. He will head mail order, online and mobile operations and take on some marketing and PR responsibilities.

Thomas told Retail Week: “The strategy is simple – to grow Maplin’s sales by getting more people into store and more online.

“I will be looking at how store staff interact with the online business. A lot of staff across retail see their own website as a competitor but it’s important to break down that barrier and engage them.”

Maplin has been strengthening its multichannel offer in recent months. It hired fulfilment specialist Shutl to offer customers 90-minute deliveries, and has launched click-and-collect.

The Rotherham-based retailer currently has an iPhone app and is developing an Android version. It is also one of the first retailers to join the new Tesco marketplace third-party sales site, to complement its Amazon and eBay stores.

A Maplin spokeswoman said: “We are excited about the next stage of our business using new technology. Ryan is going to be a real asset for Maplin.”

Thomas was placed at Maplin by search firm Clarity.