- Qurate Retail has picked David Rawlinson II as its new CEO following last year's announcement of current CEO Mike George's pending retirement, according to a press release.
- Rawlinson most recently served as CEO for retail and consumer-focused data firm NielsenIQ. Prior to that he worked as president of supply company Grainger Global Online.
- Rawlinson is set to take over for George Oct. 1, after a transition period that begins in August. George will continue working as a senior adviser to Qurate until year's end.
George has spearheaded the QVC television retail business as CEO since 2004, and since 2018 served as CEO of Qurate after QVC's owner, Liberty Interactive, rebranded. Qurate Executive Chairman Greg Maffei credited George with "bringing our unique video commerce experiences to new generations of consumers worldwide."
Today, Qurate is a tough company to classify. It is best known for its television retail platforms, QVC and HSN, but also owns the online retailer Zulily that specializes in flash sales, as well as a group of upscale home goods and apparel brands with catalog and online channels. Under the Cornerstone header, those brands include Frontgate, Ballard Designs, Garnet Hill and Grandin Road.
Rawlinson, who will serve as CEO-elect until he takes over the permanent chief spot, called Qurate a "unique and powerful enterprise." Rawlinson's background combines experience both in data and consumer analytics, and in managing a global sales business. Maffei praised Rawlinson as a leader who has "successfully managed ... businesses through evolutionary transitions."
Qurate was among those that grew during the pandemic as brands turned to its television outlets to reach customers as stores closed and customers, when stores reopened, continued to avoid in-person shopping.
Doing so wasn't easy. Qurate's television production had to operate with fewer staff during the COVID-19 crisis, manage longer shipping times, and the company extended the customer return policy in recognition of the logistical challenges to consumers stuck at home.
"The good news for us in a bad situation has been that people are at home and more engaged in both TV and spending time online," George told Retail Dive last year. "We think about various forms of livestream internet shopping … but all of them [are] growing at double-digit or even triple-digit rates."
The year brought a nearly 5.3% increase in sales and a more than eight-fold increase in operating profit.
This year, Qurate has launched a livestream QVC channel on YouTube TV to complement its television channels and broaden its reach to some 8 million subscribers. It also kept its momentum in the early part of 2021. In the first quarter, Qurate's total revenue increased 14% year over year, while its e-commerce revenue rose 19%, reaching more than 60% of its total revenue.
"We operate at the inflection point of accelerated online shopping, wide adoption of video streaming and growing consumer engagement on digital platforms," George said at the time.
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that Qurate launched a channel on YouTube TV.