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British retailer Debenhams has appointed the former CIO of Direct Line Group, Angela Morrison, as its technology and supply chain director.

Prior to her role as CIO at Direct Line, Morrison was CIO of the operating board for Sainsbury’s for almost five years, as well as the European strategy director for Walmart.

The announcement of Morrison’s appointment, as well as another appointment on the senior management team, came after the retailer announced its Debenhams Redesigned strategy, which aims to make its stores part of a “shopping experience” and promote the concept of “social shopping”.

The strategy includes the reduction of stock, possible store closures, moving back-end staff into stores and attempting to bridge the gap between online and offline.

Between 2009 and 2012, the retailer worked to build a strong focus on multi-channel retail and grow its social media presence, and had begun to see growth in the mobile and online space.  

But retail has shifted from multi-channel to omni-channel, with customers expecting a more consistent, personalised experience across the entirety of a brand’s channels.

This has also shifted the role of many physical stores to showrooms and experience centres rather than places for sales churn, but many retailers are not responding to this in the right way – choosing to close stores that are underperforming on sales rather than repurposing them as places customers can test or try products and be exposed to a brand.

Debenhams CEO Sergio Bucher claimed one of the focuses of this new strategy would be to build an “improved digital proposition” which the firm’s new senior management appointments would contribute to.

“I’m thrilled to be returning to retail by joining Debenhams at such an exciting time,” said Morrison. “I look forward to being part of the team that will help Debenhams become the go-to destination for customers in this digital world.”

In 2013, Morrison’s role as CIO at Direct Line saw her handling the migration of the firm’s IT systems away from former parent Royal Bank of Scotland’s technology platform, giving her previous experience in transformational IT projects handling legacy systems.

Morrison replaces Peter Swann, who is stepping down from the role after four and a half years to join WHSmith as operating director.

Morrison has also previously appeared in the Computer Weekly list of the top 50 women in UK IT, in sixth place in 2013 and 14th place in 2014.

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