New Deals Direct chief to chase more acquisitions

Online department store DealsDirect has flagged further start-up acquisitions, after appointing former Centrebet boss Michael McRitchie as its new chief executive, with Linda Barrett named as head of buying.

DealsDirect was founded in 2000 by Paul Greenberg and Mike Rosenbaum, initially operating on eBay before establishing its own retail network site in 2004.

The business sells across multiple categories including electronics, kitchenware, and toys and games.

According to Greenberg, McRitchie and Barrett both bring extensive experience to their new roles.

McRitchie was previously managing director of Centrebet, after serving as chief financial officer for seven years, during which time the company went public and was sold to Sportingbet.

Greenberg, who is currently overseas, told Inside Retail McRitchie was hired for his “strategic mindset in an online environment, leadership skills, and absolute passion for data and analytics”.

Meanwhile, Greenberg said Barrett “is as good a merchant as any in Australia” with “decades of retail experience”.

Over the course of her career, Barrett has worked with major brands including Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Sleep City, Everyday Living, Spotlight, Freedom and Harvey Norman.

“Linda will greatly enhance our buying and channel management efforts as we scale our buying with our increased emphasis on brands, deals and margins,” Greenberg said.

The news comes after DealsDirect appointed Gavin Dennis as its chief financial officer earlier this year.

According to Inside Retail, Dennis has a track record in private equity, including a focus on “acquisitive rollups”, suggesting Deals Direct is looking to make further acquisitions.

“I see the trio of Dennis, Barrett and McRitchie being the architects of the next round of the DealsDirect Group journey,” Greenberg said.

DealsDirect is already well versed in the business of acquisitions – its portfolio includes Shoppers Advantage, ToyBarn, DinosaurDeals, KidStore and TotalDVD.

It is also backed by Ellerston Capital, a fund owned by James Packer.

Dennis told StartupSmart DealsDirect has a history of growing organically and through acquisitions, and that will continue.

“We’re looking for businesses in areas that DealsDirect already operates in or could see itself operating in,” he says.

“For us, it’s about looking for businesses that have value that we can see, and we are able to leverage what we’ve already created.”

When ToyBarn was acquired in July last year, Greenberg said his company’s acquisitions were as much about talent as they were about gaining access to infrastructure and customer bases.

“There is just a lack of talent available, so the highlight of these buys is about the people we can get,” Greenberg said.

“I think these smaller eCommerce guys have had to do more with less and they have some really interesting solutions around CRM, site search and so on.”

“I think there is a shortage of talent in this space, and these guys are showing they are very nimble and have some great knowledge with them.”

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.


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