The Very Group has appointed a new non-exec chair and reported strong Christmas trading performance.

Former Walmart executive vice president Dirk Van den Berghe has joined the Liverpool-headquartered online retailer, which operates the and websites.

Van den Berghe joined Walmart in 2014 and was responsible for its business in Canada, China, India and Japan. He also oversaw Walmart Global Sourcing, a supply chain supporting all Walmart’s divisions in the United States and international markets. 

During this period, Van den Berghe and his team were instrumental in realising Walmart’s  investment in and partnership with, a leading e-commerce business in China, and in  developing the joint venture between Seiyu, Walmart’s subsidiary in Japan, and Rakuten, the eCommerce market leader in Japan. 

They also realised Walmart’s $16bn investment in Flipkart, a  leading eCommerce and mobile payments platform in India. 


“We are delighted to have someone of Dirk’s calibre and experience join our company as chair,” said Henry Birch, group CEO at The Very Group. 

“Dirk has successfully transformed and grown some of the very best companies in eCommerce, marketplaces and payments, and we believe he will make a material difference in helping us achieve our growth aspirations. 

“He is the perfect person to lead our board and assist with strategic options that we are considering over the coming year as we enter the next important phase of the group’s development.”

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Meanwhile Very revealed 22% growth in retail sales for the seven weeks to 24th December 2021, which included the Black Friday promotional period, compared with the same period two years ago – the last pre-COVID Christmas.

It said its fastest order during the period was processed and despatched in 18 minutes and 32 seconds by the highly automated fulfilment centre, Skygate, which ran on 100% renewable energy during a peak trading period for the first time.

Very’s automated chatbot was used by 137,000 customers a week and helped to reduce calls into its contact centre by 17% compared with last year.


Birch said: “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of our people, we’ve delivered another amazing Christmas for our customers and strong trading results for the period. 

“Very recorded outstanding double-digit growth compared with the pre-pandemic festive season in 2019, as our customers enjoyed a more ‘normal’ Christmas.

“They bought back into fashion, focused on wellness, got their hands on the latest consoles and doubled-down on Christmas decorations to make up for last year’s more muted celebrations.

“While the next 12 months will no doubt bring challenges as we all continue to navigate life  around COVID-19, the last two years have shown that our model, which combines multi category digital retail with our Very Pay platform, is both highly resilient and highly relevant.

“We’re going into the new year with great momentum and are well-set to keep building on  our success.”