Top exits rock Amstrad

Amstrad has been rocked by two senior departures from Amstrad Direct, a key sales operation which also handles its new beauty care brand Ultima (MW last week).

Amstrad Direct managing director Lindsay McEwan quit the company last week. McEwan’s departure was quickly followed by the division’s commercial director, Phil Samson. No reason was given for either departure and neither is thought to have a job to go to.

Amstrad has moved quickly in the wake of the two exits and handed control for the division to special projects director Bordan Tkachuk, who oversaw the launch of Ultima.

Amstrad Direct was set up in November 1994 when founder Alan Sugar withdrew stock from Dixons high-street stores to concentrate on sales by telephone. McEwan was poached from BBC Direct to head the operation. His departure, less than a year later, comes days after the Amstrad Direct division started selling Ultima beauty-care products.

A spokesman for Amstrad denies there is any connection between the change of product range for the Direct operation and the subsequent departures.

Tkachuk, who retains his title as special projects director, and reports directly to Sugar, played down the departures. “I have gone in as an immediate fix to the problem,” he says. “I was already handling Ultima. There is not much difference between this and computers. Both are commodity goods.”

He adds that in his new role he will review the advertising for Amstrad Direct – handled by an in-house operation and local agencies. Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy handles Ultima.

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