Chief customer appointments dominate in February as Asda, Kingfisher and River Island all reconfigure their strategies around shoppers.

Move of the month

…is Andy Murray’s appointment as Asda’s new chief customer officer.

Andy Murray Portrait

Andy Murray Portrait

Asda’s new customer officer Andy Murray

The capture of Murray from parent company WalMart has the makings of a masterstroke by Andy Clarke at a time when struggling Asda badly needs an expert strategist with an innate understanding of retail trends.

With a background steeped in brand strategy and shopper marketing – notably as founder and former chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi X – Murray seems the ideal person to keep Asda one step ahead of its customers, a task that is central to the grocer’s Project Renewal strategy.

Murray will bring a different skill set to the role than his predecessor Barry Williams who has built a well-earned reputation as an outstanding trader and has been the linchpin of Asda’s food division for much of the past decade.

Williams seems certain to resurface in a high-profile trading role making this feel like a good move for all parties.

 Switching codes

…is Pierre Woreczek, McDonald’s highly regarded chief strategy, customer and digital officer, who has joined the Véronique Laury revolution at Kingfisher in the newly created role of chief customer officer.

Kingfisher's new chief customer officer, Pierre Woreczek

Pierre Woreczek

Kingfisher’s new chief customer officer, Pierre Woreczek

Frenchman Woreczek brings with him a strong track record of designing and delivering new customer experiences, first at Cadbury France and for the past 17 years at McDonald’s, and will be a key lieutenant as Laury develops her ‘one’ Kingfisher plan.

Woreczek’s move marks the second significant capture of a McDonald’s executive by a UK retailer in the past year following Jill McDonald’s arrival at Halfords, a fact that speaks volumes for the restaurant chain’s success in consistently evolving its brand and service proposition to meet the demands of its customers.

All change at

…Ribble Cycles, the private equity-backed cycling specialist, which has named former Asda and Shop Direct director Jon Owen as its new chief executive and drafted in ecommerce expert Matthew Lawson as chief digital officer.

Ribble jpg

Ribble jpg

Ribble Cycles appointed a new chief executive and chief digital officer

Owen’s move demonstrates the growing ability of smaller players such as Ribble to lure high-calibre talent away from their larger peers, particularly when a chief executive role is up for grabs.

The opportunity to spearhead Ribble’s expansion drive under majority shareholder True Capital will surely have appealed to Owen whose CV includes a spell as Asda’s marketing director.

Lawson, meanwhile, has successful spells at Ao.com and more recently Loveholiday.com to his name.

 Promotion of the month

…for Josie Roscop who becomes customer director at River Island having previously held the position of marketing director.

Josie Roscop crop

Josie Roscop crop

Josie Roscop, customer director at River Island

Roscop, who began her life in fashion as a model and previously helped develop Sainsbury’s Tu brand, will be responsible for building River Island’s customer relationships as well as heading up PR, VIP services and the graphics team.

Look out for further changes at the retailer in the months ahead as it develops its customer engagement strategy.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed a trend among this month’s biggest movers, the vast majority of whom have the word ‘customer’ somewhere within their new job title.

It can be hard to pin down the specific remit of a customer director, which varies from one retailer to the next and can include responsibility for anything from marketing and trading to communications and service; but their popularity shows that, rather than simply repeating the maxim that the customer is king, retailers are now embedding this truism within their organisational structures.

It makes sense. The growth of online retailing means a larger pool of businesses are competing for the same shopper spend.

“When presented with such an embarrassment of choice, retailers can no longer take customers’ repeat business for granted” 

Tony Gregg

When presented with such an embarrassment of choice, retailers can no longer take customers’ repeat business for granted.

In this context, fulfilling the needs of your existing customer base across multiple channels becomes arguably even more important that winning new business.

From an organisational perspective, this has required retailers to create new roles that align with the need to stay one step ahead of shoppers.

‘Customer director’, ‘chief customer officer’, ‘director of customer insight’, call the job what you will. The role itself is here to stay.

People moves in February 2016 – the list in full

NameJob RoleCompany ExitingCompany JoiningJob Role
Hugh Fahy Group technology officer Net-a-Porter Notonthehighstreet.com chief technology officer
Josie Roscop Marketing director Internal promotion River Island customer director
Bill Barnes Finance director DFS    
Nicola Bancroft Commercial finance director Internal promotion DFS chief financial officer and executive director
Garry Hogarth Chief executive Agent Provocateur    
Andy Murray Senior vice president of creative and customer experience Walmart Asda chief customer officer
Barry Williams Chief customer officer Asda    
Adrian Arbuthnot Menswear design manager Koovs River Island head of menswear
David Smith Managing director The Body Shop, Asia Pacific arm Debenhams international director
Sara Prowse European managing director Lands End Hotter chief executive
Frances Russell Womenswear director Marks & Spencer Amazon Own Label Brand
Martin Francis Director of global multichannel trading House of Fraser Wool Overs chief customer officer
Tony Bennett  Finance director Charles Tyrwhitt Moss Bros group financial director
Robin Piggott Finance director Moss Bros   retiring
Paula Minowa Chief executive Strauss Innovation Moss Bros chief operating officer
Vicky Reay Senior retail director   Morrisons operations director for the Southeast
John McAlpine Convenience director Tesco Morrisons operations director for the Northeast
David Lepley ROM Asda Morrisons stores leadership team
Jacqueline Hay Executive director apparel and accessories House of Fraser Michael Kors VP for buying & planning, Retail Europe
Janine Constantin-Russell Senior retail director Value Retail Whistles retail director
Ben Carter Marketing director Notonthehighstreet.com Just Eat marketing director
Sarah Baillie Head of digital product management Internal promotion House of Fraser director of digital product
Madeleine Melson Head of customer insight Internal promotion House of Fraser director of customer insight
Mark Madden Digital director House of Fraser    
Elaine Smith Head of project office Internal promotion House of Fraser head of digital product 
Zara Eck Senior brand planning manager Internal promotion House of Fraser head of brand planning
Pierre Woreczek Chief strategy, customer and digital officer McDonalds Kingfisher chief customer officer
Jon Owen Group retail director Shop Direct Ribble Cycles chief executive
Matthew Lawson Chief digital officer Ao.com Ribble Cycles chief digital officer
Claus-Dietrich Lahrs  Chief executive Hugo Boss    

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You can call Tony Gregg on 01564 796830 or email him at tony@anthonygregg.com. Tony Gregg is chief executive of the Anthony Gregg Partnership. Founded in 2003 and located in Henley-in-Arden and London,The Anthony Gregg Partnership specialises in the consumer search market space.

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