June 29, 2012, 1:39 PM

eBay’s U.K. subsidiary hires a retail chain executive

Tanya Lawler had been digital chief at supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.

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The U.K. unit of eBay Inc. has lured Tanya Lawler away from her role as Sainsbury’s digital boss and made her its vice president of U.K. trading, a new job that the online marketplace has created at eBay.co.uk.

Lawler will develop eBay’s customer strategy and manage eBay’s relationships with large retailers that sell their products through the online marketplace, including well-known high street names such as Superdry, Bench, House of Fraser, LK Bennett and Comet. She will also work to attract more of these retail chains to sell through eBay.

Lawler worked as director of digital and cross-channel at U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. Before that she was group commercial director at department store chain Argos and vice-president of retail at consultancy Capgemini. She will officially take up her new role at eBay in late autumn and will report to Clare Gilmartin, vice president, marketplaces U.K and rest of Europe.

“Tanya will help us ensure that the business and experience of shopping on eBay continues to evolve to meet the demands of the modern shopper,” Gilmartin says. “EBay is a very different business to the one that launched in the U.K. over 10 years ago.  Most items sold on eBay are now sold new and at a fixed price, and the U.K. is one of eBay’s fastest-growing European markets. Our strategy is to partner, but never compete, with the U.K. retail industry.”  

Lawler’s appointment is the second senior personnel change at eBay U.K. this month. Less than two weeks ago, Amanda Metcalf was promoted to a newly created role as marketing director for U.K. and Republic of Ireland.

EBay.co.uk says it aims to double the size of its fashion outlet business and has launched a series of marketing campaigns, including TV ads. The U.K. has been strong performer for eBay over the past few years and eBay’s chief executive John Donahoe has said that e-commerce in Europe as a whole has performed “stunningly” well, despite the uncertainty about the region’s economy.

As European macro-economic and retail statistics have been highly volatile and trending down in the U.K., Germany and Italy, e-commerce growth rates have been in double digits in percentage terms, Donahoe said at a recent wealth management conference in New York.

“I don’t have a crystal ball on the macro-economic picture in Europe any more than anyone else does,” Donahoe said. “What I will observe is that over the last 12 to 24 months, e-commerce growth rates have held up in Europe–stunningly, frankly.”

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