Kmart Group has appointed a former Amazon VP to oversee its online retailer Catch, which the retail giant says is outperforming its expectations since acquiring it last year.

Former Amazon Vice President Pete Sauerborn will next week begin as Catch managing director. Sauerborn has spent the last decade at the US giant in a variety of roles. Before Amazon, Sauerborn was responsible for ecommerce at flower delivery company Teleflora.

Sauerborn (pictured above, right) will now lead Catch, which Wesfarmers acquired for $230 million in mid 2019. While Catch has expanded into utilities, financial lending and the New Zealand market, at its core it is an online retailer and marketplace, and Kmart Group saw the buy as a way of accelerating its digital and ecommerce capabilities.

At the time of the deal, Catch said it had over 1 million customers, offered 1.9 million SKUs, and had two established fulfilment centres in Victoria which in peak periods ship more than 10,000 parcels a day.

By November Kmart had expanded Catch’s paid subscription service, similar to Amazon Prime, to its Kmart and Target businesses.

This week, Kmart Group managing director Ian Bailey, who had been overseeing Catch since its acquisition, said he was thrilled to add someone with such an impressive ecommerce pedigree and said the organisation would continue investing in its new online retailer.

“Since Catch joined us last year the business has outperformed our initial expectations, demonstrating the increasing confidence Australian consumers have in online shopping and their appetite for the phenomenal deals the Catch team are able to curate for their customers,” Bailey said in a statement.

Sauerborn said Catch has already built an impressive ecommerce business and he looked forward to leveraging Kmart Group’s other assets.

“The opportunity to help scale the business to the next level by leveraging the Kmart Group’s physical store infrastructure and great brands is very exciting,” Sauerborn said. “Being part of a blue-chip company like Wesfarmers, with its track record and strong balance sheet, while having the latitude to lead Catch as Managing Director is very attractive.”

The former Seattle-based Amazon VP did note, however, that the Australian market presents unique challenges.

“Australia is a bit earlier in its adoption of ecommerce 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.”

Sauerborn will start on Monday May 11 and be based at the Catch head office in Bentleigh, Victoria.

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