Play.com hires HMV online boss to rethink operations

The WebWorks-owned online DVD and CD retailer Play.com has poached HMV head of e-commerce, Stuart Rowe, as its new managing director.

Rowe left HMV earlier this year after 13 years with the high-street retailer, but has been on extended “gardening leave”. He has now started with Play.com and plans to review the company’s operations across the board.

“I wanted the chance to apply what I’ve learned over the past ten years to a business where the online experience is core, rather than just being a small part of a larger group,” he says.

Before leaving HMV, Rowe was responsible for putting together the retailer’s digital downloading service, HMV Digital, which launched in September (MW September 1).

Play.com currently markets itself through press and magazine advertising, with television bursts around the Christmas period and online ads, all created in-house. Rowe will be reviewing the company’s marketing, but will not say whether he wants to bring in an advertising agency. According to figures from Mintel, Play.com spends around &£1.8m a year on advertising.

Rowe also admits that Play.com is “looking at digital downloading very carefully”, particularly in the light of the explosion in home broadband use, the fall in broadband pricing and the increase in download speeds.

WebWorks claims that Play.com is the UK’s second-most visited retailer, with over 3 million customers in more than 30 countries.

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