House of Fraser [IRDX RHOF] has launched a £25m upgrade of its ecommerce platform that it says will give it the capacity to double its online sales while developing a new relationship with its customers.
Work on the platform started this month and is designed to improve the customer online experience while also improving the retailer’s ecommerce profit margins at the same time.
The move follows a year in which online sales grew by 16.1% to account for 21.8% of total sales at House of Fraser, a Leading retailer in IRUK Top500 research. Overall, gross transaction value (GTV) came in at £1.3bn in the year to January 28, with like-for-like sales up by 0.9%. Profits before tax and exceptional items came in at £3.4m, 161% up from the £1.3m reported last time.
Chief financial officer Colin Elliot said this was a strong set of results that was a credit to staff “who strive to exceed our customers’ expectations every day.”
He said: “This is an exciting time for House of Fraser and I am confident that the actions taken by the new leadership team places us in a strong position for the future.”
House of Fraser is focusing on three strategic priorities in the year ahead – customer, product and infrastructure. All are part of an overall plan of “transforming its relationship with customers from a transactional interaction to an experiential, lifestyle-led relationship”.
Its focus on the customer has already seen it appoint David Walmsley as chief customer officer as part of a strategy to Following research and analysis of its customer base, it now plans a stronger brand identity that it says will align it with customer needs and expectations. “In line with findings, the group has launched a number of strategic marketing initiatives aimed to considerably improve the customer experience, both instore and online, drive better engagement and increases retention,” it said in today’s full-year trading update.
It has appointed Maria Hollins to the position of executive director, product and trading, and says it will maintain a commitment to premium products and services at competitive prices. Over the next 18 months it will focus on its house brands, discontinuing five under-performing brands and introducing new brands, including a womenswear house brand set to launch for the autumn/winter 2017 season. During the last year, house brand sales declined by 2.1%, while womenswear sales were down by 0.6%.
In terms of infrastructure, the retailer refurbished five stores during the year and will see its new anchor store for the Rushden Lakes shopping centre in Northamptonshire open this autumn. It also plans “significant changes” to the performance of the logistics and supply chain, to be introduced over the next 18 months.
Frank Slevin, executive chairman of House of Fraser, said: “The retail environment is changing and we must continue to innovate, challenge and strive to be what our customers want us to be. The strengthened leadership team have meticulously reviewed every part of our business and have set out a clear vision for the future direction of the business.
“It is important that House of Fraser leads in providing the space and experience that attracts our customers to come and spend time in our stores, to make shopping with House of Fraser a lifestyle-led experience. With great teamwork, newly refurbished stores and a greatly improved web platform, I am confident that the Group has the solid foundations to deliver long term growth and sustainable profitability over the coming years.”
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- House of Fraser