Glasses Direct appoints first marketing director

Glasses Direct has appointed Phil Gates, former head of online marketing at Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media, as its marketing director. The appointment is one of a number of recruits for the online retailer’s inaugural marketing department.

The move comes ahead of plans by Glasses Direct founder Jamie Murray Wells to ramp up his operation, following a £2.9m injection of capital from investors Index Ventures and Highland Capital in July.

Gates joined Virgin Mobile as marketing manager in 2005 and was responsible for launching websites for the brand. He was recently promoted to head of online marketing and development across Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media. Prior to Virgin, he worked in e-commerce at O2.

Gates will work with David Magliano, who joined the Glasses Direct board as a non-executive director last year to guide the company’s marketing strategy. Murray Wells says Glasses Direct now has a six-strong marketing team. Last week the company appointed Albion to handle a £2m branding brief in 2008 (MW November 22).

Michael Roth, founder of online lingerie retailer Figleaves.com, is also joining the company at board level. He will advise on general strategy as Glasses Direct prepares for major competition from high street opticians, such as Specsavers, which are expected to enter the online market in 2008.

Murray Wells has also recruited Gerard Sebastian, formerly finance director at Kelkoo.com, Yahoo Europe’s shopping website, as finance director. Earlier this year Jon Cumberlege joined from online gambling operator Betfair and is now chief operating officer of Glasses Direct.

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