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Drapers Top 100 2016 – 5. Alex Baldock, group chief executive, Shop Direct

Alex baldock cropped

Alex baldock cropped

Alex Baldock storms up the Top 100 this year as Shop Direct continues to push the boundaries of ecommerce technology. The firm recently launched a new app called Very Assistant, which uses artificial intelligence to respond to basic customer queries, and has grand ambitions to make the process more sophisticated in 2017.

Baldock did away with Shop Direct’s print catalogues in early 2015 and now 62% of sales come via mobile devices, up from 56% last year. Pre-tax profits at Shop Direct, which operates Very, Very Exclusive and Littlewoods, grew by 43.6% to £150.4m in the 53 weeks to 30 June, driven by a strong performance at Very and the group-wide rise in mobile transactions. Group sales were up 4.3% to £1.9bn, marking the fourth consecutive year of growth. This is testament in no small part to Baldock’s clear focus on new technologies, mobile and personalisation.

Shop Direct will open a London office next year.

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