It was just three weeks ago in this column that I suggested Dixons Carphone employees should fasten their seatbelts for the structural changes to come under new boss Alex Baldock.
What I didn’t foresee was the breakneck speed at which Baldock would act. This week he announced a shake-up of the company’s structure, including the scrapping of the retailer’s existing separate UK & Ireland and group executive teams, to be replaced with a new, streamlined group executive committee (ExCo).
Among the beneficiaries are chief commercial officer Steve Ager, Carphone Warehouse managing director Jeremy Fennell and Alan Ritchie, who will lead the group’s customer-facing operations – all three of whom have been promoted to ExCo.
“Baldock exudes the air of someone who approaches the task of business transformation with total clarity of thought”
Out the door, meanwhile, go group strategy director Andrew Lawley, chief marketing officer Neil Hollins and services chief executive Keith Jones.
It’s common for new chief executives to take around six months to assess how the organisation functions, even if they have a reasonably clear idea in advance of the changes that need to be made.
Baldock, however, exudes the air of someone who approaches the task of business transformation with total clarity of thought.
Clearly, he won’t have come to the business completely cold and will have spent the three months between his appointment and his first day poring over Dixons Carphone’s business architecture and forming his own strategic vision.
What’s coming across particularly clearly is his desire to make the business more customer-focused.
It sounds like a self-evident ambition, but although big businesses often talk a good game about putting the customer at the heart of decision-making, it’s rare for a complex organisational structure to enable the kind of agility and responsiveness needed to make good on such a promise.
“With Baldock, you sense he truly means it when he says he intends to give the customer a louder voice in the business”
With Baldock, you sense he truly means it when he says he intends to give the customer a louder voice in the business. His appointment of Antreas Athanassopoulos as Dixons Carphone’s first chief customer officer is of particular note.
Shop Direct under Baldock was a business that steered away from having a channel mentality and fixated instead on how the customer approaches shopping.
Athanassopoulos’ role will straddle complementary functions such as services, marketing and IT with the aim, one should assume, of letting customers set the agenda for how the business serves them rather than the other way around.
This won’t be easy. Dixons Carphone is a complex, and still relatively new, entity and it will be hugely challenging getting disparate units pulling together in the same direction.
But Baldock is bullish about the retailer’s strengths, and if he can get its 40,000 employees buying into his vision then it doesn’t seem like a stretch to believe – as Baldock does – that Dixons Carphone’s best days lie ahead.