Super Retail nabs UK IT exec as inaugural CIO

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Super Retail nabs UK IT exec as inaugural CIO

John Lewis veteran lands down under.

Retail giant Super Retail Group has lured the former head of IT delivery for UK department store John Lewis to become its inaugural chief information officer, in an effort to boost its digital credentials.

Paul Hayes joined Super Retail this month as its first-ever chief information officer after 10 years at John Lewis. He is charged with leading IT and digital following a rejig of internal divisions.

The restructure moved the digital division out from under the marketing department and into the technology unit, with a dedicated executive officer who reports into the CEO.

Hayes' initial mandate is to implement and develop "innovative and cost-effective technologies" as well as a long-term IT and digital roadmap that includes improving data security.

The group's information services team is currently restructuring according to a 'plan, build and sustain' model to place a greater emphasis on engagement with the business, and therefore be more adaptive to customer demands. The company is also currently bolstering its UX design and agile development capabilities.

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"Increasingly, there is little divide between our in-store and digital presence in terms of how customers interact with our brands, with these two worlds becoming more closely intertwined," the group wrote in its recent corporate review.

"Digital interactions influence store visits and are an increasingly important part of the actual store experience."

It has separated its digital ambitions into three key areas: problem solving (customer interaction); "frictionless delivery" (pain-free ordering and fulfilment); and engagement (data management and information sharing).

Super Retail is hoping Hayes' John Lewis experience will bolster its omni-channel capabilities.

John Lewis has jumped head-first into omni-channel retailing in recent years, and this past Christmas reported record sales thanks to its retail website and click and collect service. Online sales accounted for 40 percent of its total revenue over the period, a growth of almost 22 percent.

"It's no secret digital and online has turned retail into a global business," Super Retail Group CEO Peter Birtles said in a statement.

"John Lewis is widely recognised as a leader in digital and retail innovation and we are excited to have Paul join our business at a time when we are focused on strengthening our capabilities in digital and data management across the group."

Prior to his stint at John Lewis, Hayes spent six years at IBM as a consultant to UK retailers like Woolworths, Tesco and Argos.

Brisbane-based Super Retail Group operates brands including Rebel and SuperCheap Auto.

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