House of Fraser IT supremo steps down

Duncan Gray is to leave House of Fraser after nearly four years as the department store chain's head of IT.

Duncan Gray is to leave House of Fraser after nearly four years as the department store chain's head of IT.

Gray will leave the retailer in August as it presses ahead with its multichannel strategy. Paul Maxwell, previously head of IT at bankrupt shoemaker Faith and head of product systems at Debenhams, has been appointed as his replacement.

Last year, House of Fraser reinstated the IT director role and promoted Gray - formerly a director of IT services at the firm - to the top IT job.

The company's finance director had been accountable for technology since Gray's predecessor Frank Berridge retired in 2007.

When Berridge retired, Gray and director of systems development Mike Hiscock took joint responsibility for the IT function. After his promotion, Gray took sole control of the department, with a brief that included consolidating the teams and improving the company's web presence.

The mission of improving the company's multichannel offering is now on the shoulders of e-commerce veteran Robin Terrell, who joined the retailer earlier this year as executive director for multichannel and international.

Terrell, previously a managing director at John Lewis Direct with experience at other web giants such as Amazon and Figleaves, has already announced new online initiatives as House of Fraser strives to claim a larger slice of the online retail pie his latest employer already enjoys.

One of the new services to be launched by House of Fraser in September is a buy-and-collect scheme which will allow customers to collect items purchased online, as well as a pilot to be launched in the London Westfield store, whereby sales staff can place orders online on behalf of clients if the required products are unavailable in store.

Following the launch of its transactional website in September 2007, House of Fraser is now targeting to generate over 15% of total group sales through the internet in the next three years.

"It is clear from our survey that multi-channel customer behaviour is now ubiquitous. We know that our multi-channel customers spend twice as much with us as those who only shop in store, so it is critical we respond to this in order for us to continue to meet our customers' needs," said Terrell.

"With [the new online] initiatives, coupled with the continual improvements to the website itself, we are confident multi-channel will continue to be a key growth driver for our business," he said.

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