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Shop Direct Group invests to become 'best-in-class digital department store'

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Littlewoods owner Shop Direct Group has invested to reshape its business around online and mobile commerce as it looks to become a “best-in-class digital department store”.

Some 75% of its sales during the year to June 30 took place online, and internet sales rose by 6% during the year, it said this week. A fifth (20%) of all online sales were made over mobile devices. But the cost of investing in online and mobile-first processes meant the company stayed firmly in the red at the bottom line.

Shop Direct Group, which also owns brands including Very.co.uk and isme, reported a 0.4% rise in group sales to £1.67bn, from £1.66bn last time. Its pureplay brands Very.co.uk and isme saw sales growth in double digits.

Pre-tax losses reduced by 27% to £57.7m from £78.9m last time, after exceptional costs of £46.2m, 72% up on last year’s £26.9m. Those exceptional costs, it said reflected “expenditure on the rationalisation of processes and functions within the business to become more online and mobile first in our approach.”

Mobile traffic rose by 260% year-on-year, and accounted for 30% of website visits. Meanwhile, Shop Direct Group said its Myleene Klass fashion collection had become its fastest-ever selling celebrity range.

Group chief executive officer Alex Baldock said: “At Shop Direct, we provide a winning combination of fantastic products, value for money and accessible finance. These are great foundations to build on to create a best‐in-class digital department store. One of the biggest opportunities we see is increased customer demand for m‐commerce, where we have real expertise.

“A third of our website traffic is now generated from mobile devices and that figure continues to grow rapidly across all of our brands. Looking ahead, we will start to see real incremental growth in sales from mobile as we continue to draw on our unparalleled knowledge of customer needs and shopping habits.”
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