Safeway's IT director has baled out of the innovative supermarket giant to join an Internet start-up.
Mike Winch's decision to leave Safeway after 17 years highlights a trend, predicted by Computer Weekly last month, that IT directors would become poaching targets of dotcom start-ups hungry for high-quality executives with technical Web skills.
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Richard Williams, who previously had responsibility at Safeway for supply chain areas and human resources, will take over from Winch as IT director.
Winch this week confirmed that he was joining an Internet start-up, but he remained tight-lipped about the nature of the new business.
He would only reveal that his new employer would cover both business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce.
Winch said, "I'll carry on working for Safeway as a consultant, but after 17 years it was time to move on."
One Safeway insider said he expected Winch would take some members of the IT department with him, something Winch and Safeway would not comment on.
Safeway, along with Tesco, is seen as an IT innovator in the food retail sector. It was among the first to offer home ordering through the Internet.
It has concentrated on optimising its supply chain to get the most out of just-in-time warehousing, as well as taking full advantage of collected customer data.