September 13, 2004, 12:00 AM

Amazon names former Drugstore.com CEO as head of hardlines

Experiencing rapid growth in consumer electronics and other hardlines products, Amazon has hired Kal Raman, former CEO of Drugstore.com, to fill the new position of senior vice president of Amazon’s global hardlines business.

Experiencing rapid growth in consumer electronics and other hardlines products, Amazon.com Inc. has hired Kal Raman, former CEO of Drugstore.com Inc., to fill the new position of senior vice president of Amazon’s global hardlines business, Amazon said.

"Our hardlines business has grown quite a bit in the last 15 months, when we we’ve added 18 product lines and entered five countries," a spokeswoman says. For the second quarter ended June 30, Amazon’s hardlines business – including office products, tools and home-and-garden supplies in addition to consumer electronics – grew 56% year to year. Amazon is No. 1 in Internet Retailer’sTop 300 Guide to online retailers.

Raman takes over duties formerly held by senior vice president Diego Piacentini, who now will focus only on his other duties as head of sporting goods, jewelry, health and personal care, gourmet foods and Amazon’s largest category, books-music-videos.

Raman served three years as head of Drugstore.com, a period during which revenue grew 70% to $246 million. But he left the pureplay online retailer in early June as it continued to work through growth issues. In a statement released at the same time as the notice about Raman’s departure, Drugstore.com, No. 36 in Internet Retailer’sTop 300 Guide to online retailers, said it had updated its financial guidance for the second quarter, projecting a Q2 EBITDA loss in the range of $1.1 million to $1.8 million, a widening of more than 60% from an earlier guidance of an EBITDA loss of $600,000 to $1.1 million. EBITDA is a measurement of earnings before costs related to interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Amazon, however, did not take long to decide to choose Raman, who is well known by Amazon executives, the spokeswoman says. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos got to know Raman while serving on the board of directors of Drugstore, of which Amazon owns 16.5%, and Rick Daldell, Amazon’s senior vice president for technology, has served along with Raman on the board of directors of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the spokeswoman says.

 

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