Space NK promotes digital boss to CEO

Beauty retailer Space NK has promoted group digital director, Andy Lightfoot, to CEO.

Lightfoot joined Space NK in October 2016, during which time he has led the growth and development of the online operations. He will report to former CEO, Chris Garek, who has assumed the role of executive chairman.

A divisional board has been created to support Lightfoot, with Margaret Mitchell in place as chief merchandising officer, Emma Simpson-Scott as chief marketing officer, and Noah Rosenblatt as North America president.

Commenting on Lightfoot’s promotion to the top job, Garek said: “Andy's drive and determination coupled with his leadership skills in his new role of CEO will enable Space NK UK and US to demonstrate itself as a leading omnichannel and customer centric retailer."

Space NK launched as a single store in Covent Garden in 1993, but now has 69 stores across the UK and Ireland, as well as 41 locations in the US. Its North American presence includes free-standing stores and boutiques at core department store chains Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom.

The subject of what appears to be a growing number of digital leaders becoming CEOs in retail – as exemplified by Lightfoot’s appointment at Space NK – was a subject raised at a recent British Retail Consortium event in London.

But John Lewis managing director, Paula Nickolds, and Marks & Spencer managing director for clothing, home & beauty, Jill McDonald, refuted claims the majority of the industry’s future leaders will come from a digital background, despite the growing need for tech expertise in the sector.

“It’s about the customer, it’s about having people who have empathy,” explained McDonald.

“They could be from IT and digital, they could be from supply chain, [or] operations, but you’ve got to be able to connect with people and you’ve got to be deeply passionate.”

Nickolds commented: “In order to be more digital you have to be managed by somebody who happens to have the word digital in their title is probably the wrong way of thinking about it.”

She urged future retail leaders to “think customer” and for them to realise their businesses are not just competing with other retailers “but how human beings spend their time and their money”.

“I think that can come from any discipline.”

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