Retailers with great multichannel skills remain in high demand and there are few digital experts with as impressive a CV as Robin Phillips.
The former Waitrose and Boots man has been a fixture on retail power lists in recent years, and rightly so given his ability to propel online sales wherever he goes.
Kurt Geiger is the next company set to benefit from Phillips’ Midas touch having appointed him its new director of digital.
The upmarket shoe brand is one of the few footwear retailers to have performed strongly in recent years thanks to an attractive product proposition and a focused store strategy that favours department store concessions over expensive standalone units.
The appointment of Phillips suggests the next stage of Kurt Geiger’s growth plan under long-standing chief executive Neil Clifford is to significantly ramp up its online capabilities.
They can hardly have picked a better candidate. Phillips has a reputation as a visionary who gets things done. He wasn’t at Boots for all that long – just two years in fact – but in that time he accomplished a great deal. Under his leadership Boots ramped up the personalisation of its Advantage Card loyalty scheme, improved the efficiency of its click-and-collect offer, and rolled out its Sales Assist app, which helps store staff answer customer queries and boost sales.
He stepped down from his position in December citing a desire to pursue a more strategic digital role, and by moving to a much smaller business such as Kurt Geiger is likely to have the freedom to do just that.
Phillips has always been big on innovation – as ecommerce director at Waitrose he piloted automated temperature controlled lockers and launched its Waitrose Cellar online wine shop – and we can surely look forward to more pioneering work in his new role.
Successful innovation will be crucial in the months ahead in light of the challenges facing the high street. Growing inflation and a fall in consumer confidence has created a challenging set of conditions for retailers. It would come as no surprise, therefore, if the traditional summer slowdown in the jobs’ market was amplified this year as businesses take stock of the political and economic uncertainty facing the UK.
In such demanding conditions, the services of talented people such as Phillips will be particularly highly prized.