5 Minutes With David Baker, Credit Cards Commercial Manager, Debenhams Finance

British retailers are increasingly branching out to personal finance services to further enhance their offerings. Department store chain Debenhams is one of them, so we spoke to credit cards commercial manager David Baker to find out more.

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David Baker

You’ve been in your role for about a year now – what’s it been like so far?

It’s been great to join Debenhams Personal Finance which has seen some huge growth over recent years across all the product areas and the card programme is a key part of this. We have a clear defined strategy to grow this even further over the next few years.

A lot of retailers have a financial division such as Debenham’s Personal Finance. How do these divisions compliment the core retail operation of a major high street business?

Personal finance plays a key role in driving retail sales and deepening customer brand engagement through key levers such as loyalty, frequency and higher spend. Therefore, a personal finance customer tends to be one of our most valuable and engaged customers.

What can retailers’ financial divisions offer customers that normal banks don’t?

We can offer customers retail benefits such as loyalty points, discounts, access to VIP events and exclusive sales that a typical high street bank cannot offer.

We also add those personal touches a retailer can that a bank cannot and build that relationship in a more engaging way.

How is Debenhams addressing some of the challenges facing the high street as a whole?

In spring 2018 we launched the Debenhams Redesigned strategy and are seeing encouraging signs to changes that we are making.

We have launched new stores with a revised store design, partnered with beauty services provider Blow Ltd, launched a new own brand food offer, Loaf & Bloom and announced designer, Richard Quinn, winner of the Award for British Design, as the newest name in the Designers at Debenhams style.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the sector, given the current climate?

A lot of retailers are experiencing challenging times within this current climate of uncertainty.

This includes the effects of Brexit, inflation as well as global political issues not affecting consumers independently but combining to create a climate which retailers need to forge ahead in.

Describe your role and responsibilities as Commercial Manager for Credit Cards at Debenhams?

I have full commercial responsibility for the cards P&L and managing the relationship with our card issuer and our internal stakeholders.

This covers all aspects from acquisition to onboarding, including the retention and servicing of existing card holders.

I am also responsible for agreeing the ongoing strategy and evolution of the cards programme.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Debenhams?

Prior to working for Debenhams, I worked for Avios Group Limited for over eight years, where I managed an extensive portfolio of key UK & international financial partnerships. I worked with brands such as British Airways, Lloyds Bank and TSB to name just a few.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

It is an incredibly competitive and fast paced market that is also heavily regulated.

Customers demand the best products, propositions and experiences and in a highly competitive market we need to make sure we are constantly adapting and evolving to customer needs.

And the most rewarding?

Having the day-to-day ownership of the Debenhams credit card programme and evolution of it with for one of the UK’s largest national retailers has been particularly rewarding.

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