Greenfingers loses chief executive

Innovations catalogue boss takes the helm as Helen Bridgett quits the gardening site

Greenfingers.com, which claims to be the leading gardening website in the UK, has parted company with its high-profile chief executive, Helen Bridgett. She was one of Marketing Week’s “ten to watch” in an article earlier this year (MW January 4)

Bridgett, who joined Greenfingers in March 2000, six weeks before the site launched, had previously overseen the rapid growth of Tesco.net, the Internet service provider.

She will be replaced by Innovations Group managing director Colin Love. Innovations is owned by Great Universal Stores.

Bridgett, who was unavailable for comment as Marketing Week went to press, is leaving to “pursue other interests”, having recently helped the start-up raise &£2.5m in second-round funding (a proportion of which was in the form of free advertising space).

In a prepared statement, Bridgett says: “I have enjoyed the challenge of taking Greenfingers from the position of gardening start-up to an industry-recognised top five online retailer in just over one year.”

But the site, which faces stiff competition in a crowded sector, remains coy when it comes to customer and sales figures. It reveals only that it has distributed over 7 million print catalogues (in a bid to add a more traditional mail order arm) and expects to reach profitability in 18 months.

Love has a strong home shopping background, with more than 20 years at companies such as Avon Cosmetics, Betterware and the Innovations Group. He says Greenfingers’ distribution of 7 million catalogues since April 2001 has resulted in “strong sales”. This is supported by a wider range of goods – over 1,500 products and 3,000 plants.

Love adds: “The UK gardening market is extremely dynamic, with 14 per cent of sales attributed to direct retail channels.

“I am confident that my background in traditional catalogue and direct marketing, and my knowledge of online sales will help Greenfingers to keep diversifying and expanding its business. In particular, we must look at moving Greenfingers into a full multi-channel operation.”

Greenfingers’ rivals include E-garden.co.uk and Crocus.co.uk.

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