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Head of Business Change

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The business:

Shop Direct has transformed from a catalogue and bricks and mortar retailer into the UK’s largest integrated online-only digital retailer and financial services provider.

The company began in Liverpool in 1932 with the Littlewoods catalogue, offering customers home shopping and the ability to spread the cost. The first Littlewoods high street store opened its doors in 1937 and, at its height, Littlewoods employed 22,000 people. The Barclay family acquired Littlewoods in 2002 and went on to acquire rival Manchester-based catalogue retailer Great Universal Stores in 2003, merging the two businesses to form Shop Direct.

The business set about its digital transformation, supported by investment from its shareholder, to adapt to the fast-changing retail environment. Shop Direct closed the last Littlewoods stores in 2005 and merged its online heritage brands into and in 2015. 72% of sales came from catalogue customers in 2012 but by 2015, the company was 100% digital having ditched the catalogue that year.

Today, Shop Direct is the UK’s third largest pureplay etailer by revenue (behind Amazon and ASOS), operating digital department stores and It is the only business to have been named Retail Week’s Pureplay Etailer of the Year three years in a row and, most recently, the company was awarded Employer of the Year at the Retail Week Awards 2018. In the same year the business generated revenues of £1.96bn – posting its sixth successive year of record total sales and underlying profit following a decade of losses. The company’s websites receive over 1.4m visits every day, with over three quarters of sales coming via mobile devices.

Shop Direct is the number one online credit retailer in the UK and one of the UK’s largest non-bank consumer lenders. Customers use the company’s revolving credit accounts to purchase items on its websites and all of Shop Direct’s customers are offered interest-free terms on every purchase. The business’ credit proposition is central to its purpose – to make good things easily accessible to more people.

Shop Direct is about to embark on the next stage of its transformation. The appointment of Henry Birch as CEO from the Rank Group in May 2018, coupled with the company’s determined growth plans to increase market share through investment in its brands, tech, a new warehouse and becoming even more customer-focused means there has never been a better time to join this ambitious business.

The opportunity:

The next stage of our transformation is ambitious - every single part of the business will change significantly over the next 3 years. This is not simply about tech change – we are looking to reshape the operating model of the whole business. Everything from building effective capabilities (people, process, tech and data) to rebooting our governance processes to changing our ways of working and the workplace itself is in scope.

To achieve this, we need to get really good at delivering change. We need to understand how each initiative will impact each part of the business, anticipate the scale of challenge, and influence the delivery roadmap to ensure we can deliver successfully. We need to plan for success, with recruitment of new colleagues or external support, plus the creation of development plans.


  • Developing a new, modern, lean target operating model that creates empowered, focused cross-functional teams set up to successfully deliver customer and business outcomes
  • Set out a roadmap to deliver the target operating model
  • Understanding business change impacts for all activity in the portfolio
  • Developing a playbook for great business change based on industry best practise
  • Managing business change activity across the business
  • Leading a team of business architecture and business change managers

Success in this role will be:

  • Setting out a clear vision for the target operating model and creating the blueprint for each area of the business
  • Building the team and identifying third party partners to support with specialist areas or to help with heavy lifting during crunch periods
  • Building relationships with stakeholders across the business. In particular…
    • The technology team to ensure that our operating model roadmap is aligned to our technology roadmap
    • The people team to inform our talent strategy and to create a development curriculum in key areas
  • Building relationships with other businesses and organisations to understand what great looks like elsewhere in terms of both operating model design and business change

The person:

It has to be noted that we are aiming high; our expectations are as lofty as our ambitions. Therefore, we accept that it is unlikely that any one person will meet every aspect of the brief. Experience of leading all aspects of change delivery would be advantageous but who you are is considered to be more important than what you have done or where you have worked.

The perfect candidate will be/have:

  • An inspirational leader who personifies Shop Direct’s values and is capable of leading a team unified by a clear purpose and vision
  • The perfect blend of intellect and EQ – an intellectual giant with a high degree of self- awareness, coupled with an empathic nature and advanced social skills
  • An approach to solving issues which is inherently collaborative and non-hierarchical and able to evidence the leadership of business change
  • Experience of change management coupled with target operating model development
  • Customer centric to their very core and able to clearly evidence prioritising customer outcomes above short term commercial gain
  • Excited by the combination of retail and financial services at Shop Direct
  • Deeply analytical and highly numerate
  • Curious by nature with an orientation towards continuous improvement
  • The upward potential to grow into an Executive Board role

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