Woolworths loses e-commerce chief

Woolworths Net boss Howard Unna quits as Kingfisher plans cull of loss-making online divisions

Woolworths’ head of e-commerce, Howard Unna, left the company as reports emerged that the retailer’s parent company, Kingfisher, is scaling down its loss-making Internet operations.

A source at Woolworths confirmed that Unna left last week but would not say whether he had a job to go to. It is likely that he will not be directly replaced.

As part of the restructure of its online operations, the group is also scrapping the role of vice-president of marketing for its online division e-Kingfisher effectively leaving Lesley Saville without a job. But, the company says that it will “make all efforts” to find alternative positions for anyone affected by the cutbacks.

The group refuses to say how many potential redundancies there are, although reports estimate up to 100 jobs are at risk. It is not known whether the restructure will affect Woolworths’ interactive TV shopping site on Open and the forthcoming service on Telewest, which were also overseen by Unna.

Saville also oversaw marketing for Superdrug.com which closed its online shopping service last week after Dutch health and beauty giant Kruidvat bought the company from Kingfisher.

A spokeswoman for Superdrug says seven of the website’s 11 full-time staff have already been redeployed within the existing business and it hopes to find suitable positions for the remaining four.

Woolworths Internet operations will now focus on home entertainment shopping, with items such as videos and CDs. It is understood that the cutbacks will save up to &£15m ahead of Woolworths’ demerger, the details of which are expected to be released later this week. Kingfisher will not say whether its other online operations – which include the B&Q site DIY.com; the Comet site and e-tailer Streets Online – will be affected by the cutbacks.

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