UPDATED: Gracie shares why he's switching Catch Group for MyDeal

Chief marketing officer leaves Catch Group after five-year tenure to becomes CMO of ASX-listed online retail marketplace

Building brand and the right team are among top priorities for MyDeal's new chief marketing officer, Ryan Gracie, who has joined the ASX-listed online marketplace this week.

The experienced marketer officially finished up his five-year stint as Catch Group CMO last week and commenced his new posting at the online retail marketplace on 24 May. Gracie boasts of a 20-year career in marketing with an emphasis in retail, working for the likes of Funtastic, JB Hi-Fi and most recently, Catch Group.

Gracie’s efforts at Catch Group saw him recognised in CMO’s CMO50 list of Australia’s most innovative and effective marketing leaders in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

In a statement, MyDeal CEO, Sean Senvirtne, said Gracie’s appointment was about preparing the business for its next stage of growth. The company reported a solid start to 2021 reporting strong results across all key metrics and cited gross sales as being up in April and May on the prior corresponding period, despite last year’s figures being assisted by COVID-19 lockdowns.

Ryan GracieCredit: Catch
Ryan Gracie

“Ryan is a marketer of the highest calibre in Australian online retail, having most recently participated in scaling a business from $190 million to being one of the largest online retailers in the country in just five years,” Senvirtne commented.

“He will play a key role in growing our business by ensuring even more Australians are shopping for home and lifestyle products at the lowest prices through MyDeal.”

Gracie’s departure from Catch Group comes more than 18 months after the company was acquired by Wesfarmers in a deal worth $230 million. Over the last 12 months, he’s also overseen Catch Group's largest ever brand building program of work.

Speaking to CMO about the move, Gracie said it was the opportunity to get back in at the coalface and build an entrepreneurial brand that tipped him into accepting the MyDeal role. With 79 employees, MyDeal is about one-quarter of the size of Catch, he pointed out.

“When I was recruited by Catch founder, Gabby Leibovich, in 2016, I was the head of digital at Nine. I saw an opportunity to join a $190 million business, and it’s since grown to more than five times that,” Gracie said. “What I saw then was the chance to grow and learn from entrepreneurs on how to be a great marketer with limited budget and time.

“I’ve learnt that the less money and tools you have, the more resourceful you become and the more fully honed your skills have to be.”

With Wesfarmers now overseeing Catch, and with so many more people on-board and money behind it, Gracie said he’d felt further away from having a tangible impact day-to-day on the brand and business.

“I had a moment when I saw a Catch billboard while driving that I’d never booked, never saw the creative for, and realised I was so far away I wasn’t seeing the output. I was doing more analytical, strategy, business case work. It’s not what I wanted to be as a marketer,” he said.   

As the first executive-level marketer at MyDeal, Gracie inherits a 12-person team including a head of marketing, SEO, lifecycle and email marketing and merchandisers. It’s a long way from the 100 people he left at Catch, 79 of which were in the marketing team in Australia.

“I can see the passion across our people to make a difference. I’m excited by that,” he continued. “This business [MyDeal] has been flying under the radar, with an unprompted brand awareness that’s low. It’s all upside. This gives me skin in the game and the ability to build a team again, systems, processes and to get the right people and marketing in place.”  

Thanks to his last five years with Catch, Gracie already has his sights on the big goal at MyDeal. “This business is very reliant on performance marketing. I know what I want to do and that is build brand - and to do it more quickly than I did at Catch,” he said.

“It took three years before I gained permission to get that spend above-the-line. Due to MyDeal’s listing, there’s cash in the bank and a real opportunity to build the brand quicker.”  

Immediate priorities for Gracie to achieve this include enhancing MyDeal’s customer value proposition. “It’s not where it needs to be, so there’s a lot of work to be done on our value proposition and energising what customers see and have,” he said.

Balancing acquisition with customer churn is another key consideration, and a big focus at MyDeal will be on that retention strategy. “Keeping a customer can be cheap if done in the right way,” Gracie commented.

And as Australian’s embrace and transition to shopping online more often, MyDeal is ideally placed to capture this increased demand, underpinned by what Gracie described as a "formidable proprietary platform".

“The CEO here has put complete faith in me to help build this business. He understands where he wants us to go, can see what I have done and wants to replicate it," he said. “In every conversation, I can see where there’s opportunity. At Catch we were playing around the edges and finding the 1 per cent. Here, advancements can be more meaningful.

"By offering leading brands, superior products, and best in class marketplace sellers across multiple categories, MyDeal gives customers great value coupled with a superior shopping experience. This is a business loaded with potential and brimming with opportunity that’s full of talented and passionate people. That’s what genuinely excites me.” 

As to what he’s leaving behind, Gracie said the launch of Catch’s biggest ever brand campaign last year was one of his proudest moments. Transforming the brand from Catch ‘of the day’ to just Catch was another big win, and one Gracie said could be seen in subsequent revenue growth.

“There was a moment in time where I reached five years and instead of me explaining what I do, they explained it to me. Now I’ve achieved that it’s time to move on,” he added.

Catch Group declined to comment to CMO on Gracie's departure or plans for the marketing leadership role.

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