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Retailers that command and control staff will fail, says Shop Direct boss

Traditional retailers who seek to “command and control” their staff are unlikely to prosper in the new world order, according to Shop Direct boss Alex Baldock.

Speaking at today’s Retail Week Live conference, the chief executive of the parent company of Very told delegates the days of having “the great man” directing the movements of an entire company were gone.

“The pace of change and complexity of what is happening is beyond the control of one individual - or even the leadership team,” he said.

Instead he advocated creating a structure through which shared values are prioritised and ideas can come to the fore.

He singled out one Shop Direct staff member - 23-year-old Rebecca - who had put forward a game-changing idea for Christmas trading.

“Don’t tell her but she made us millions,” Baldock joked.

It was important to allow this fluidity because, Baldock admitted, “we don’t know which devices will pan out” in future. Instead of focusing on particular devices, Shop Direct plans to be ready for any form of connectivity.

“This is happening on the customer side,” he said. “We just have to be ready for the connected customer in whatever way she chooses.”

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