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Less than 5% of British retail executive directors have an e-commerce background

There is a lack of significant relevant e-commerce experience on the boards of major British retailers, according DHR International.


DHR International found that only 5% of executive directors at the leading UK-listed ‘bricks and mortar’ retail companies* have a background in e-commerce which risks putting High Street retailers at a competitive disadvantage compared to online-only retailers.


DHR International explains that many traditional retailers realise the threat from e-commerce, but, as yet, have struggled to bring relevant talent from the world of e-commerce onto their boards. Therefore, it says, the need to transform traditional retail businesses to be more online-focused, including developing the necessary logistical structures, continues to be a significant boardroom issue.


DHR International adds that in its early stages, many retail boards underestimated the pace at which e-commerce would alter their industry over the next two decades. Consequently, high street retailers have only recently shifted their strategic focus towards online shopping in a bid to compete with internet-only retailers, such as ASOS and AO World, and are now competing for talent to develop their digital offering.


Jan Westerink, partner in DHR International’s consumer and retail practice, commented, “In hindsight, traditional retailers responded too slowly to the challenge of e-commerce but they now recognise they have to add senior people to their online operations. Retailers need to get their e-commerce offering right or risk losing market share.


“In-depth knowledge of the e-commerce sector at board level will be invaluable in developing a multi-channel approach, which is key for the future of the retail industry. For instance, many fashion retailers are adopting similar online services to ASOS in order to keep their share of the market.”


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