GUS shuts internet business unit as e-commerce director quits

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The Independent Online

Great Universal Stores, the UK's biggest mail order firm, has parted company with its e-commerce director and disbanded its separate internet business development unit.

Great Universal Stores, the UK's biggest mail order firm, has parted company with its e-commerce director and disbanded its separate internet business development unit.

Michael de Kare-Silver has left with a £295,000 payout after less than a year in his post overseeing GUS's online expansion strategy. He has resigned to pursue his own interests and the eight-person e-commerce development he ran has been shut.

GUS said its major divisions: catalogue company Argos; the financial information provider Experian and Reality, a logistics company, will now oversee their own e-business strategies.

"It makes sense for our operating divisions to take responsibility for managing their own e-commerce," said GUS's chief executive, John Peace. Its shares rose 3p to 430p.

Mr de Kare-Silver is the author of the bestselling book e-Shock. He helped set up GUS's internet investment unit GUSco.com and oversaw the £23m purchase earlier this month of Jungle.com, an online retailer. He said his resignation came after several meetings with Mr Peace over the past few weeks to decide the company's ongoing internet strategy.

Mr Kare-Silver said: "I think I have done the job they asked me to do and it makes sense for me to move on." He recently joined the board of Thus, the telecoms company.

One City analyst said: "The central [e-commerce] unit wasn't doing what it needed to do and the company was finding it difficult to get things going."

GUS has been seeking to expand its e-commerce activities after a slump in sales from its catalogues. Home shopping sales in the year to 22 July fell 6 per cent due to increasing competition from discount clothing retailers.

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