Shop Direct welcomes online business veteran as new CEO

Shop Direct, the UK’s second largest pureplay retailer, has appointed Henry Birch to the role of group chief executive.

Birch is currently chief executive officer of FTSE 250-listed Rank Group plc, which owns and operates Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo alongside several European gaming and casino businesses.

Birch, who will step into his new position later this year, has been chief executive of Rank Group since 2014, leading the business through a wide-reaching strategic overhaul to create the UK’s largest multichannel gaming operator.

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The new CEO of Shop Direct also spent four years as boss of William Hill Online, where he launched the company’s mobile business, driving 170% growth in revenue and more than doubling operating profit.

He previously held management roles at Leisure & Gaming plc, BettingCorp, Time Warner, Turner Broadcasting and Riffage, an early digital music operator based in Silicon Valley. He started his career working in the House of Commons and holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

At Shop Direct, Birch will take the reins from interim CEO and group finance director, Derek Harding.

Birch said: “The company has been through an extraordinarily rapid and successful transformation over the last five years and flatly refuses to slow down. I’m looking forward to driving continued growth as Shop Direct continues to outpace its competition, and am excited to join the team to carve out the next chapter.”

Aidan Barclay, chairman of Shop Direct, said: “From both Rank Group and William Hill Online, he brings a track record of reshaping businesses to become more customer-focused, data-driven and technology-enabled while simultaneously driving outstanding financial performance.

“Separately, I’d like to thank Derek Harding for the superb job he’s done of leading Shop Direct over the last few months. Derek will continue to drive the business forward as interim CEO until Henry arrives, and we look forward to continuing to work with him as group finance director thereafter.”

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