The Shop Direct Group is part of March UK, its holding company, and accounts for most of the latter’s business. Shop Direct was formed in 2005 when Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay bought Great Universal Stores and merged it with Littlewoods. Its other brands include Very and Woolworths.co.uk, with 75% of sales generated online and the rest through catalogues. In May the Liverpool company outsourced its customer contact centres to Serco in a £430m deal, which will see the transfer of 1,800 staff. Sales reached an annualised £2.1 billion in 2011 under group chief executive Mark Newton-Jones, who steps down in September to be replaced by Alex Baldock, managing director of Lombard.
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