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John Lewis hires customer insight director

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John Lewis has hired a customer insight director as it looks to get a new understanding of the way its customers shop.

The John Lewis Partnership has appointed Paul de Laat to the job of partnership customer insight director. De Laat starts work on January 2 and will work across both the John Lewis and Waitrose brands.

His brief is to “develop greater understanding of shopping behaviour”, a role in which he will support both the divisional strategy and marketing teams. He’ll also be responsible for increasing the partnership’s insight into its customers. In previous roles, said the partnership: “Paul has a strong track record of building insight capability to drive improved commercial performance.”

De Laat has previously worked at Thomas Cook, O2 and Vodafone. Most recently he was customer value management director at Lloyds Banking Group.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Paul to the partnership. He brings a wealth of experience and expertise and will be a valuable addition to our team, working closely with both John Lewis and Waitrose.

“Customer insight is an increasingly sophisticated area and a central part of modern retailing. Paul’s appointment to this newly-created role demonstrates our commitment to understand every aspect of our customers’ shopping behaviour, across both John Lewis and Waitrose, so that we can enhance the service we offer to customers.”

Paul de Laat said: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help the John Lewis Partnership make the most of its strong customer relationships. By turning customer data into actionable knowledge, we can enhance our relevance to customers and increase value both for our customers and for Waitrose and John Lewis.”

Our view: When John Lewis moves, other retailers watch with great interest. And this hire of a customer insight director in a board-level post is an interesting move indeed. John Lewis points out that its new hire, Paul de Laat “has a strong track record of building insight capability to drive improved commercial performance,” and that’s clearly what’s hoped for here. For in a now-multichannel world, those looking to design intelligent and convenient digital services and shopping channels start with their customers. John Lewis’ move to make this appointment will have resonance across the industry, underlining the now strategic importance of understanding what customers want. It’s a far cry from those days when shoppers followed retailers’ rules on how shopping is, and the industry is adapting fast.

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