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New CEO’s from USA announced to lead Australia’s largest retailers

The former Vice President of Amazon and former Chairman of Walmart’s international e-commerce group have both moved from the USA to begin their new director roles at Australia’s largest retailers.

The former VP of Amazon, Pete Sauerborn, has been appointed by the Wesfarmers group to be the new managing director of Catch.

Meanwhile, Coles Group has announced that Ben Hassing, following 16 years in executive roles at Walmart, will be the new Chief Executive of e-commerce.

Online retailer Catch.com.au is regarded as Australia’s leading e-commerce organisation. Nati Harpaz, former managing director of Catch.com.au shared on a social media post on Sunday 19 April that he was leaving the company.

Catch’s new managing director, Pete, brings more than two decades of experience working in technology and retail businesses, including Amazon and Teleflora, to Catch, the e-commerce business Wesfarmers acquired in August 2019 for $230 million.

“We are really thrilled to have someone as experienced and qualified in e-commerce and online shopping as Pete Sauerborn to lead Catch through its next exciting phase of growth,” Ian Bailey, Kmart Group’s managing director, said.

“By increasing our investment in the business, and by continuing to build Catch into a trusted marketplace for online shoppers, we have every reason to believe that Catch will go from strength to strength.”

Pete is set to start at Catch on Monday, May 11, and will be based at the online retailer’s head office in Bentleigh, Victoria.

Pete said Australia is a bit earlier in adoption of e-commerce when measured as a percentage of total retail sales, and there are different dynamics because of its relatively smaller population and remote geography, which has implications for supply chain, inventory and transportation.

He also said Australia has notable differences to North America, Europe and Asian markets, calling Catch an impressive e-commerce business due to Australia’s online adoption, transportation networks, regulations and taxation, and is excited to improve Kmart Group’s physical store infrastructure and take the business to the next level.

“This is a big move from Seattle to Melbourne and a new company. It is also a bit unusual starting a new role with social distancing as we are missing out on many of face to face interactions that would allow us to get to know one another more quickly. I really appreciate how adaptable, welcoming and supportive everyone has been through this process and can’t wait to get started,” Pete said in a social media post.

Grocery giant, Coles, is significantly increasing its capacity to meet growing customer demand for online food and grocery shopping, announcing two new high-tech Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFG’s) in Sydney and Melbourne and a new chief executive to lead its e-commerce operations this month.

Ben Hassing, Coles group’s new chief executive of e-commerce, brings 16 years of experience from various executive roles at American multinational retail corporation, Walmart.

Most recently, he was the chairman of Walmart International E-commerce leadership group based in Shenzhen, China and was facilitating cross border e-commerce between the US and international markets.

Steven Cain, Coles CEO, told iTnews that e-commerce has a very important role to play in our purpose of sustainably feeding all Australians to help them lead healthier and happier lives.

“We’re looking forward to the considerable experience that Ben will bring to our business and to the leadership team,” Steven told iTnews. 

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