The Business On... Brian McBride, Managing director, Amazon.co.uk
Thursday 08 July 2010
Ah, the scourge of Tesco?
Could be. Mr McBride runs the UK business of Amazon, the giant American retailer, which yesterday launched an online groceries service. It seems a bit clunky compared to the supermarkets' more established websites, but this is early days and Amazon is more than capable of challenging the grocers.
What do the Americans know about British shoppers?
Plenty, judging by the success of Amazon in Britain already. But actually, Mr McBride isn't American at all – he's a Scot.
So how did he end up running Amazon here?
Well, a decade or so after the brilliant Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, its critics were beginning to wonder whether its management was professional enough to run what had become a large, established company. In 2006, Mr Bezos responded with several appointments, including hiring Mr McBride in the UK. He was poached from T-Mobile, where he also ran the British business.
And what has he done since?
Quite a bit. Amazon UK has moved into footwear, clothing and a string of new product lines under Mr McBride. A few months ago, he was denying Amazon had plans to take on the grocers, but yesterday's launch was inevitable.
Is Tesco really quaking?
That might be exaggerating a little – online-only operations such as Ocado might be more nervous – but there are similarities with Tesco. Like Sir Terry Leahy, Mr McBride eschews corporate excess and glamour – Amazon's UK headquarters, for example, is in decidedly downmarket Slough. In a nod to the effect of Ricky Gervais's The Office on the town, he even has the show's theme tune, "Handbags And Gladrags", as his mobile phone ringtone.
Any other similarities?
Well for Sir Terry Leahy's love of Everton, read Celtic for Mr McBride. He enjoyed a long sting as a non-executive director at the club he has supported since boyhood.
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