House of Fraser has drafted in multichannel guru Robin Terrell to lead online and international operations at the department store group.
Terrell, who has run multichannel strategies at industry leaders John Lewis and Amazon, will join House of Fraser on Monday. He will oversee two of the three key strands of the retailer’s growth strategy and sit on the executive board.
The appointment comes as House of Fraser continues talks with its lenders to renegotiate banking covenants in order to fund its three-year growth agenda, which includes ramping up its own-brand offer, doubling e-commerce sales and international expansion in the future.
As managing director of John Lewis Direct, which he left in January after spearheading the relaunch of the department store’s online fashion offer, Terrell integrated the online arm into the main business and achieved record growth.
Terrell was formerly chief operating officer of lingerie etailer Figleaves for three years and, prior to that, managing director of Amazon UK.
House of Fraser chief executive John King said: “The growth of multichannel is fundamental to our growth strategy, alongside the development of house brands.”
Google head of industry, retail, Paul Frantz described Terrell as a “fantastic hire” and said: “He has the perfect combination of understanding how a big pure-play works as well as a multichannel operator.”
Frantz added: “One of his challenges at House of Fraser will be to educate them about online in terms of getting out to new customers and developing a relationship. They need to establish themselves as an online player - if you name the great multichannel retailers at the moment, they would not be on the list.”
In September, King outlined plans for the next stage of House of Fraser’s growth after three years under the ownership of private equity consortium Highland Acquisitions. The retailer outlined plans to open its website to 65 markets by the end of 2009, take its proportion of house brands from 10% to 30% and open stores overseas on a franchise basis.
Terrell’s appointment follows that of Stephanie Chen as womenswear director to head the growth of House of Fraser’s own-brand offer.
House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy told Retail Week this week that, by asking its lenders to soften covenants, the business would be able to achieve its plans. There was no danger of the retailer breaching covenants, he added.
He said House of Fraser was set to reveal EBITDA of about £70m in the year to January 31, compared with £55m the year before, and trade in January and February was “strong”.