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Seb James to leave Dixons Carphone

Dixons Carphone boss, Seb James, has announced he will be stepping down as CEO from the end of the financial year to pursue a new role at Boots.

Shop Direct’s CEO, Alex Baldock, will replace James who has run the electronics retailer for the last six years.

The shock announcement came as Dixons Carphone announced a strong Christmas trading update, with group revenue up 4% year-on-year and like-for-likes up 6%, with James saying the business grew market share in “pretty much every category.” This followed a fall in profits prior to Christmas caused by the weak demand for mobile phone upgrades.

James has overseen massive transformation of Dixons Carphone, but his vision of creating a monthly subscription service is only in its infancy. Last year, the CEO said retailers needed to rethink the use case and the long-term objective to buying a product: “Nobody wants to own a washing machine, it’s the world’s most boring object, what we want is clean clothes," he said.

It will be interesting to see if Baldock will continue James’ sharing economy vision when he takes the reigns at the end of the financial year. Baldock has been as equally impactful at Shop Direct, where the retailer which owns Littlewoods and Very has continued to post positive sales figures, thanks to its focus on improving the mobile shopping experience, building the first purpose-built UX lab in the UK.

Baldock has also led the way in the deployment of artificial intelligence in retail, with the launch of a chatbot assistant for its Very mobile app, which was created in partnership with IBM.

Welcoming Baldock, Dixons Carphone chairman, Ian Livingston said: "The board and I are delighted to welcome Alex Baldock to the group. He has an outstanding track record in leading large, complex consumer-facing businesses. He's led Shop Direct through one of UK retail's fastest, most far-reaching and most successful digital transformations, delivering five consecutive years of record financial performance, with strongly rising sales and an almost tenfold increase in profits.”