Halfords, the outdoor, cycling and motoring retailer has announced its new CIO today, Liz Robson will join the organisation from fellow retailers Shop Direct. Robson will step into the role vacated by Anna Barsby who is heading to supermarket leaders Morrisons.
“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Liz Robson as Chief Information Officer for Halfords,” the retailer confirmed in a statement to Horizon. At Shop Direct Robson was head of IS Delivery working with the organisation’s CIO Andy Wolfe.
“Liz joins us from Shop Direct. Liz has a great blend of experience and people leadership and we look forward to welcoming her to the business later this month,” said Richard Street, Supply Chain Director, Halfords.
Robson has strong retail experience having also been with DIY store Homebase where she was head of IS between 2010 and 2014. Robson has previously worked with motoring services firm RAC as head of IT for six years and also has financial services experience from a 2006 to 2008 at UBS.
It is interesting to note how Street highlights Robson’s skills in people leadership, a key strength industry observers see in her predecessor Anna Barsby. Retail experts tell me the reinvigoration of the staff was one of the main pillars of the rebirth of Halfords.
Barsby has been CIO at Halfords for three years and has been an instrumental part of the organisation’s recent success. Halfords has been facing digital disruption in it’s cycling, outdoor and automotive markets, but in the last three years has transformed all parts of its business, whether technology, shop floor and staff. Halfords brands include Cycle Republic (pictured) a separate brand that has profited from the rise of cycling in the UK.
Liverpool based Shop Direct is probably best known for its very.co.uk brand. The business was formerly known as Littlewoods and like N Brown, led by COO and former CIO Andy Haywood is a former catalogue mail order business.
Shop Direct has reported annual sales of £1.7 billion and claims 59% of its business is from mobile devices from over a million daily online visits. Shop Direct says it sells over 1100 famous brands through the Littlewoods and Very brands.
Mobile will increasingly impact Halfords and recently the organisation said it was preparing for the challenges and opportunities increasingly connected cars offer. The market challenge being fewer drivers buying Tom Tom and Garmin devices for their cars.