Gideon Lask, high-profile e-commerce director at U.K. music and home entertainment retail chain HMV, is jumping ship to join Universal Music U.K.

Billboard has learned that Lask will be Universal's new senior VP of business development when he joins the music company this fall. He will report to U.K. chairman/CEO David Joseph. Although an HMV spokesperson confirms Lask will be departing, his leaving date has still to be negotiated.

Lask’s new duties have not yet been confirmed, but Billboard understands that he will be involved in both Universal's physical and digital products. Additionally, he will be exploring how to develop the label's direct relationship with consumers. Universal did not return calls on the subject and Lask was not available for comment.

Lask (33) joined HMV U.K. and Ireland in 2004 as head of marketing and was promoted to e-commerce director in 2006 to overhaul the U.K. online and digital business.

Sources close to HMV say physical and digital online sales represented about 15% of HMV U.K. and Ireland's £1.079 billion ($2.1 billion) retail revenues in the financial year ending April 2008, which would make them worth around £162 million ($321 million). When Lask joined HMV, they say, those sales totalled £10 million ($19.80).

Lask also spearheaded development of a new DRM-free downloads service on the retailer's www.HMV.com Web site, which launches Aug. 20. The company says that and will feature 4 million tracks from major and independent labels. Additionally, the site will feature a revamped version of the HMV Jukebox, a £5 ($9.9) a month subscription-based streaming service.

In July, the company launched another of Lask's projects, the social-networking service Getcloser.com, which allows customers to discover, rate, recommend and share information on their favorite music and movies, and build a "DNA" profile, tapping into users' favorite music, film and artists. Visitors can also import their iTunes libraries to a personalised home page.

The Getcloser.com concept is also being introduced to HMV's more than 200 physical outlets, where fans can access their online accounts via installed computer terminals.

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