HOLLAND & BARRETT has appointed Steve Carson to the newly-created position of Managing Director as it focuses on its digital transformation strategy. Carson was previously Director of Retail and Customer Operation at Sainsbury’s Argos where he was responsible for 840 stores with 30,000 staff and a turnover of £4.5bn. Peter Aldis, Chief Executive of Holland & Barrett, a Leading retailer in IRUK Top500 research, said that this appointment represented an important and strategic milestone for the business, as the retailer aims to drive digital transformation both online and through its brick-and-mortar stores. “Coming so soon after our acquisition by L1 Retail, it is a clear signal of our intent to become one of the world’s leading health and wellness brands,” said Aldis.
Steve will “help us continue to innovate in stores, ecommerce, logistics and supply chain as well as in customer service and fulfilment, creating the right platform for long-term sustainable digital growth.
LASTMINUTE.COM is working with travel publisher Rough Guides, to offer brands a new way to target travel customers. The two are to combine their first-party data and targeting capabilities to enable smarter targeting of ads. Brands will be able to direct their ads towards the travel audience using both companies’ sites, which include lastminute.com, Rumbo and Bravofly, building bespoke campaigns that it says will target travellers with relevant ads along the way.
Lastminute.com group will use search and booking data to point its website customers to the most relevant travel guides for the destinations they are travelling to, at, says lastminute.com “the point of inspiration”. Rough Guides’ content will be on dedicated microsites on lastminute.com group’s sites. Alessandra Di Lorenzo, Chief Commercial Officer – Media and Partnerships at lastminute.com group, said: “We want to help advertisers engage travellers with relevant content from the research and inspiration phase, right through to booking and beyond – and this partnership allows us to do just that. It is part of our strategy to develop more rich, curated marketing solutions that go beyond the banner. And Rough Guides is a perfect partner for us – its iconic travel content will complement our own content creation capabilities, which we’ve been working hard to develop since acquiring WAYN – the world’s largest social travel network – last year.”
René Frey, Chief Executive at Rough Guides, said: “This is a really exciting partnership for us. Not only will it help our brand partners to reach a bigger travel audience, it will also allow us to engage with consumers in a travel environment and later in the booking funnel, when they’ll have a higher propensity to purchase our product. After all, when is there a better time to offer someone a travel guide than when they’re booking their flight to that destination?”
THE YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP said sales from mobile for the first time made up more than half of its sales during the 2017 financial year, with 96% of Cyber Monday sales taking place via the devices. It said that its native apps achieved “outstanding results” during the year. The Net-A-Porter app stood out for its high levels of engagement with customers.
The group also outlined a new service available to the third-party brands whose websites it operates that will give them both a single view of their customers and of inventory.
The update came as the pureplay retail group reported revenues of more than €2bn in its latest financial year – 16% up on the previous year.
The retail group saw revenues rise to €2.1bn (£1.9bn), up by 16.9% from €1.9bn (£1.7bn) in 2016. It also welcomed more than 840m visits to its websites and took more than 9.5m orders in 2017 from 3.1m active customers. Average order values fell to €328 (£291) from €334 (£297). However, in the fourth quarter, revenues grew more slowly, by 13.2% to £575.1m, after being hit by temporarily lower product availability on The Outnet following changes to its logistics operations.
Multibrand in-season sales accounted for 51% of the group’s sales, and grew by 11.9% compared to the previous year, while off-season sales made up 37.8% of group sales, growing by 13.3% on last time. Online flagship stores run for third-party brands accounted for 10.4% of group sales, (+5.9%). The UK accounted for 13.7% of sales, Italy for 6.8% and North America for 30.3%.
New service launches included a personal shopping service for EIPs (extremely important people), enabling shoppers to try their online orders while the delivery driver waits. It was launched in London and subsequently rolled out to New York and Hong Kong.
OCADO HAS reported rising sales and profits after a “transformational year” in which it has introduced new robotic solutions to its warehouses, enabled shoppers to buy via voice, and won more customers in the UK and Europe for its technology platform.
The online grocer reported group revenue of £1.46bn in the 53 weeks to December 3, 12.4% up on the same time last year although pre-tax profits of £1m fell by 104.1% from £12.1m a year earlier, following its introduction of the national living wage, and costs related to the opening of its Andover fulfilment centre as well as investments in “strategic initiatives to aid further growth”.
During the year, Ocado became the first UK grocer to enable voice-activated shopping for its customers, via Amazon’s Alexa devices. It won more customers, increasing its active customer numbers by 11.2% to 645,000. Order volumes grew at the same time, by 14.3% to 263,0000. Its biggest week of the year saw 296,000 orders delivered. Growth came as uptake of the subscription delivery-based Ocado Smart Pass increased and more people ordered via their mobile phones. These two factors, said Ocado, had an effect on basket values, which fell slightly to £107.20. The trend of ordering via mobile phone, said Ocado, resulted “in customers ordering slightly smaller baskets more frequently.”
The company increased capacity at its Andover customer fulfilment centre during 2017 and expects to continue to do so in 2018. Meanwhile, its fourth centre, in Erith, North London, is due to open this year. Ocado boosted its service to its first commercial partner, Morrisons.com, when it rolled out store-picking capabilities that extend Morrisons’ ability to serve online customers in areas of the country not served by Ocado’s fulfilment centres.
During the year it also won three new international partners, including Groupe Casino in France and Sobeys in Canada. Both will use its technology platform and physical infrastructure solutions. Now Ocado is in discussions with “multiple retailers in a variety of geographies”.
MARKS & SPENCER said well-placed stores would remain a key part of its multichannel business, as it announced plans to close 14 branches as part of its modernisation programme.
The retailer said it would close six by the end of April, and start consultation on the closure of a further eight. The closures are part of a longer-term strategy to cut 25% of the amount of space dedicated to clothing and home products through a combination of closures, downsizes, relocations and conversions to food-only stores. In total around 468 staff are affected by the proposals.
Sacha Berendji, Director of Retail, Marks & Spencer said: “We’re committed to transforming M&S for our customers, colleagues and shareholders. Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations. We don’t want any colleagues to leave M&S and we will work with each colleague individually on what is best for them as we endeavour to give everyone a role. However, we accept in some cases we may have to consider redundancy.
“We believe these changes are vital for the future of M&S and we will continue to accelerate the programme, taking tough but necessary decisions, as we focus on making M&S special.”
At the same time, M&S plans to open 36 new Simply Food stores offering multichannel Collect in Store services alongside food and drink.
GORDON’S GIN has introduced a new service that it says can turn rail delays into a pleasant journey, as it uses geo-data to offer frustrated commuters discounted drinks. The aptly named #YayDelay service uses an intelligent algorithm to work out and monitor train delays and tweets containing #YayDelay in order to unlock a half price, or even free, gin and tonic (G&T).
The technology behind the campaign is delivered by marketing technology company Eagle Eye. It uses geo-data to respond to the real-time social media spikes that surge when delays happen, delivering mobile vouchers to commuters.
The service launched at London Waterloo, which the brand says is one of London’s most delayed stations, with plans to go live in other stations across the country throughout the year. Train customers can take part by tweeting the keyword #YayDelay throughout 2018 to lobby for their station to be included.
Passengers travelling through London Waterloo between 5pm and 6pm will need to keep their eyes peeled to see if the volume of train delays and tweets triggers a free G&T. Vouchers can be claimed online and redeemed at The Beer House within the station, allowing commuters to enjoy a Gordon’s Gin and tonic.
Keep up-to-date with #YayDelay via the official hashtag on Twitter as well as online via. www.yaydelay.com.