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Head of Compliance & DPO

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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:

Responsible to the Director of Compliance and Operational Risk, the Head of Compliance will be responsible for the Shop Direct Finance Company's (SDFC)'s Compliance risk management capability, including data protection. They will also be responsible for the oversight and maturity of the compliance risk management framework. The role holder will be responsible for the day to day management of SDFC’s state of compliance and the relationship with all of SDFC’s regulators.


  • Identifying and advising the Firms on compliance risks and how to manage them;
  • setting compliance objectives in accordance with the Firms’ risk profile and regulatory requirements;
  • Maintaining effective compliance systems and controls;
  • Developing and overseeing a risk-based compliance monitoring programme;
  • providing compliance training;
  • Acting as the TCF champion for the Firms;
  • Developing, documenting and maintaining compliance policies and procedures; and
  • To monitor the regulatory environment and advise on changes and associated business impact.
  • To lead and develop a central team of compliance professionals. Assess the broader team structure/capability, upgrading and recommending change as appropriate. Ensure they keep up-to-date with legislative changes and that they understand the impact of these changes on the function and the businesses they support.

Success in this role will be someone who:

  • Can quickly and successfully gain the confidence and respect of the board, management, SDFC’s people and external audiences through attributes such as strong communication and presentation skills, professionalism and a positive attitude.
  • A strong negotiator and influencer, who is able to build commitment to a recommendation or course of action by understanding the position of others and presenting arguments, facts and figures in a way they will find persuasive.
  • Possesses exemplary influencing and people management skills, combined with a sharp intellect and a diplomatic and consultative approach.
  • A strong leader who is able to develop and coach teams to their full potential to ensure high performance working, but who is also able to make tough people decisions where necessary.
  • A thorough person who is able to successfully apply their judgement to quantify the size of an issue and its risks, whilst being able to lead their teams to do the same.
  • A firm person, who does what is right for the business and is able to communicate this effectively and stand their ground when appropriate.
  • Takes nothing at face value and who challenges accepted ways of doing things.
  • Impeccable attention to detail who accepts nothing less than the best and will find ways to achieve it
  • Commercially astute and intellectually curious.

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:

  • A strong background in either Insurance or broader financial services sector with a first class understanding of the regulatory environment is essential, along with experience in developing effective relationships with external regulators.
  • A proven track record of successfully implementing a compliance framework.
  • Strong analytical skills with the ability to identify and critically evaluate the elements of regulatory risk in an organisation and provide insight by relating these in a commercial sense to risk, brand and customer experience.
  • Capable of striking the right balance between building relationships with key internal stakeholders whilst maintaining independence and being able to challenge business leads effectively.
  • Makes the right things happen by successfully driving change through adept stakeholder management.
  • Ability to shape and develop a compliance agenda for the business with an appropriate level of sophistication.
  • Ability to be a champion for a culture of compliance but will also have the ability to partner with the business in a commercially sensitive manner.
  • A strong leader with the presence, intellect, accomplishment and skill to quickly establish rapport and credibility at board level and beyond.
  • Ability to use their judgement effectively to identify which issues are important from those which are not.
  • A proactive operating style with the ability to consider and react to regulatory issues before they impact the business.
  • An ability to hire, develop and retain top class compliance talent.
  • A commercially, pragmatic approach, also capable of challenging and holding their ground when appropriate.
  • Able to see the advantages of change, to who copes well with this change and is able to successfully communicate the advantages of this change to the various stakeholders.

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