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January 14, 2019

Stellar fashion sales drive Shop Direct Christmas

By Beth Wright

Retailer Shop Direct, operator of the Very and Littlewoods businesses, has seen revenue rise 3.7% year-on-year over the Christmas trading period, driven by clothing and footwear.

The star performer for Shop Direct was its Very brand, which accounts for the lion’s share of revenue for the group and booked 8.8% revenue growth. An increase in mobile sales also continued, with 79% of online sales coming from mobile devices, up from 74% during the same period in 2017.

Clothing and footwear was the standout product category, meanwhile, up 8% year-on-year at group level and 15.7% at Very. This performance was driven by sportswear, which grew 22.8% at group level and 33% at Very.

Group CEO Henry Birch added that the retailer managed to maintain retail margin rate in line with last year.

“Throughout our peak trading period we focused on delivering a great customer experience and curating the right deals for our customers and our business during our extended Black Friday event. We put more emphasis on December than ever before and saw encouraging growth in key departments like sportswear and toys.”

Looking ahead to 2019, Birch said the group’s peak trading performance gives it reason for cautious optimism.

Sofie Willmott, senior retail analyst at GlobalData, warned the group must keep a close eye on rival Next Plc as it continues to become a bigger competitor in terms of branded clothing and footwear online.

“Next is adding relevant brands to complement its own brand range at a rapid pace,” she noted. “Shop Direct must ensure it has a clear point of difference from its close rival to continue attracting shoppers, for example by introducing a loyalty reward scheme.”

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