Shop Direct names ex-Jack Wills product chief to key fashion director role

Shop Direct has named Emma Alexander as its fashion director, heading up its branded and own brand clothing and footwear offerings. It’s a key move for Alexander, given that the company is the UK’s second-largest pureplay e-tailer. She’ll report to group product director and executive board member Sam Perkins.


Very.co.uk


She’s joining the owner of the Very and Littlewoods retail brands after having left Jack Wills earlier this year. She had been chief product officer at the youth-focused fashion firm with responsibility for all categories globally, covering buying, design and sourcing. She led a 75-strong team that “improved the product offering and speed to market, as well as grew the retailer’s customer base.”

Prior to this, she was brand director at USC for four years, where she “helped to turn around the business.” That came after four years spent at Marks & Spencer in senior fashion roles, including head of buying for men’s formalwear, footwear and accessories, and head of buying for the Per Una and Limited Collection brands in womenswear. Her experience also includes roles with retailers as varied as premium classics vendor Jaeger and mass-market fashion chain River Island.

Clearly she has an impressive CV but she needs all her experience in her new role which is certainly a big one. She’ll oversee all fashion buying and design, focusing on “further strengthening the clothing and footwear category” that makes up 34% of the group’s retail sales. 

She’ll also be tasked with developing the business’s brand portfolio, which includes high street names like her earlier employer River Island, as well as Mango, and premium labels such as Hugo Boss and Armani. And with Shop Direct claiming to be the UK’s top e-seller of sportswear, Alexander’s new job will see her driving the business’s sportswear offering too.

The final key part of her new position will see her heading the ongoing development of Shop Direct’s own label, V by Very, which is growing and which has been purchased by as many as 45% of its customers. Launched in September 2016 and spanning menswear, womenswear and childrenswear, V by Very is the group’s most popular brand, making up 10% of all retail sales, the company said.

Her new boss Sam Perkins said: “Emma is an exceptional fashion leader who’s consistently shown she knows her customer and the industry inside out. She builds great relationships and delivers commercial results, both in branded and own brand fashion.
 
“She’s the perfect person to lead our clothing and footwear teams through the next phase of our transformation, as we continue to hone our portfolio of outstanding brands around our customer and build on the early success of V by Very.”

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