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Wesfarmers Tipped To Snare Amazon Exec for Catch Group

UPDATE: Wesfarmers has confirmed its appointed former Amazon US executive, Peter Sauerborn, as its new Managing Director for Catch Group, who will join its VIC Head Office on May 11.

Local e-commerce group, Catch, has reportedly recruited a former Amazon.com General Manager to run its local operations, following the departure of Managing Director, Nati Harpaz last month.

Reported by AFR, parent company Wesfarmers is said to have hired the former Seattle-based General Manager of Amazon Marketplace, Peter Sauerborn, to run Catch following Kmart Group’s acquisition of the e-tailer for $230 million last year.

Disclosed to his LinkedIn, Mr Sauerborn was with Amazon.com for over nine years, and his team was tasked with “business development meets software development.”

The company built self-service seller solutions, machine learning algorithms and more to guide sellers with listing onto the Amazon Marketplace platform.

The news comes after local e-commerce behemoth, Kogan.com, reported record post-IPO monthly growth in active customers for March, with a “strong” pipeline in new sellers for the Kogan Marketplace.

Kogan.com has pledged to further invest in its marketplace platform, to expedite new seller onboarding via increased automation and self-service capabilities.

The news follows commentator rumblings that Wesfarmers would formally announce a replacement for Mr Harpaz following his departure in late April.

Catch Group was purchased to raise the digital capabilities of Wesfarmers’ department stores (Kmart & Target), with Catch operating as an ‘independent business unit’ under the oversight of Kmart Group MD, Ian Bailey.

It’s unclear if operational changes will occur should Sauerborn join the team.

Catch Group was first known for its sale of ‘discontinued’ and ‘end of season’ items, however, has continued to rebrand – commentators expect further positioning changes under Wesfarmers’ leadership.

New integrations include the ability to pick up Catch orders from Target stores via click-and-collect, with its Catch Club loyalty club also offering perks for Target and Kmart online orders.

Catch Co-founder, Gabby Leibovich, commended Mr Harpaz for his ability to lift business revenue, and forecasts Catch Group revenues to reach $1 billion “in the very near future.”

Disclosed in its most recent trading update, Wesfarmers is undertaking a strategic review of Target Australia, with some market commentators claiming a sale or closure of the business may be on the cards.

The retail conglomerate has warned in-store department sales momentum has slowed following ‘panic buying’ behaviours earlier this year amid COVID19.

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