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Harrods recruits new online chief

Luxury department store Harrods has appointed former Debenhams head of direct David Worby to head up its online division.

Worby will take up the role of director, Harrods Direct on February 1.

Worby left Debenhams at the end of 2009, a year in which the department store chain’s online business, Debenhams Direct, reported a 31% rise in sales to £55.1m. During the year to August 29, visitors to the website rose 36.8%.

Harrods declined to comment on Worby’s remit. The London Knightsbridge store has steadily ramped up the number of products available to buy on its website and has also introduced initiatives such as Harrods Launches - a platform showcasing new design talent each season. Harrods Launches, which debuted in November, allows the retailer to test emerging labels before committing bricks-and-mortar floorspace to a label.

Harrods reported a record year to January 31 2009, with sales up 9% to £751.7m after a strong performance from international brands and womenswear. Pre-tax profits were £56.2m compared with £55.4m the year before.

Earlier this month, Debenhams appointed Simon Forster, formerly senior vice president for merchandising and ecommerce at discount chain TK Maxx, as divisional director for online, reporting to deputy chief executive Michael Sharp.

It is understood Forster, who worked at TK Maxx for almost seven years, will be replaced internally.

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