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Shop Direct to open London hub in next step towards world-class digital retailing

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Shop Direct is opening a London hub to help it recruit the best staff as it moves towards its aim of becoming a world-class digital retailer.

The pureplay behind brands including, and will have space for up to 250 staff at its new 250,000sq ft site on Buckingham Palace Road, to open next summer. Some will be new hires, while others will move to the new site from its Liverpool headquarters and others will split their time between the two. They will work across data, ecommerce, IT, product and brand, reflecting Shop Direct’s focus on m-commerce and personalisation.

Alex Baldock, group CEO at Shop Direct , said: “We need to keep innovating to meet the ever-changing needs of our customer. That’s why we’re opening this fantastic new hub. The new space will reflect everything we stand for and are striving for.

“It’ll help us attract even more of the best people and get even closer to our existing partners, as well as forge important new partnerships. But above all it’ll be a place where our colleagues will have the space and facilities to thrive, delivering new innovation every day to help us continue making good things easily accessible to more people.

“There’s lots of work to do before we open, but I can’t wait to see the collaborative, digital workspace we’ll create.”

The London hub is set to play an important role in delivering and maximising some of the company’s growth initiatives, including investment in advanced analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the continued development of advanced IT capabilities, and the expansion of its brand roster and recently launched own label, V by Very. It will also be the new home of the team, who are currently based in Shop Direct’s Pollen Street showroom.

The announcement comes after a year in which Shop Direct grew sales and profits for the fourth year in a row. In the 53 weeks to June 30 2016 the group grew underlying pre-tax profits by 43.6% to £150.4m and sales by 4.3% to £1.86bn, with 62% of online sales originating from mobile devices during the period.

It also comes soon after Shop Direct launched a WhatsApp style platform to enable conversational yet automated customer service within its iOS app. The Very Assistant is the first step towards an artificial intelligence-powered natural language conversational user interface platform which Shop Direct is developing with IBM Watson for launch in 2017.

Shop Direct’s Alex Baldock said: “Our customers want to chat to us as they do their friends on WhatsApp – it’s what they’re used to. Very Assistant is our response to that desire and it will make it even easier for our customers to shop. But this is only the start.

“AI will change the game and we’re backing it in a big way. It’ll allow us to offer a personalised, ‘natural language’ CUI experience for service queries in 2017 – which will be massive for our customers.”

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