Gareth Jones built a strong reputation at Shop Direct where he played a key role in turning a catalogue business into a leading digital retailer.
So it is interesting that following a short spell as online boss at Missguided, Jones’ next career move is to become chief executive of a comparatively small, albeit fast-growing, etailer in the shape of MuscleFood.
MuscleFood may not be on every retail observer’s radar but among the gym and fitness community, it is fast becoming a go-to destination for food supplements as well as lean meats and vegetables.
Jones has been brought in by founder Darren Beale, who is currently in the chief executive role and will move to a part-time, non-executive position. His task will be to scale the etailer’s infrastructure, production and technology, and capitalise on the 1 million active customers MuscleFood already has on its database.
“It would be no surprise to see MuscleFood power its way into the retail mainstream under Jones”
Having built the award-winning digital and data platform for Very.co.uk, Jones is well qualified for the task.
Beale notes he was “very fortunate” to attract someone of Jones’ calibre to run MuscleFood. It is hard to imagine a senior executive in a traditional bricks-and-mortar business leaving an industry leader to join a niche brand.
Traditional career paths, however, seem less applicable in the tech sphere, with the chance to build something from the ground up holding greater appeal for digital leaders than for those in more traditional roles.
Robin Terrell springs to mind as another digital leader who cut his teeth working for big brands before deciding that chairing start-ups like on-demand workforce provider Catapult and smart home security pioneer Cocoon was where his future lay.
Harvard Business School graduate Jones has seemed destined for a successful career in retail ever since his first job on the shopfloor at Phones4u. He quickly progressed through the ranks to become managing director of Phones4u Direct and cites billionaire founder John Caudwell as someone who had a profound effect on his career.
Working under Mark Newton-Jones and Alex Baldock at Shop Direct will have given him further inspiration and it would be no surprise to see MuscleFood power its way into the retail mainstream under Jones’ leadership.