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Focus on growth

InternetRetailing has extended its overview of the UK’s vibrant ecommerce and multichannel retail industry through the first InternetRetailing Growth 2000 report.

The report, published in the autumn, draws on research initially carried out for the IRUK Top500. In order to establish the leading 500 retailers, RetailX researchers measured the performance of more than 1,000 traders across the six Dimensions of the main report. Beyond the leading cohort, it soon became apparent, there was a dynamic hinterland of thousands more companies, whose surface is barely scratched by our list of Bubbling Under retailers.

The Growth 2000 delves beneath the surface of this group to look in more detail at these retailers and the growth factors that drive their performance. Researchers have produced, using metrics that analyse online and offline presence and visibility in the market, a ranking that includes established names alongside up-and-coming retailers.

The Top500 was assessed through an initial ‘footprint’ study. That included measuring their store estates, online and offline revenues, in combination with their web traffic. The Growth 2000 covers the next 2,000 in that list. These 2,000 retailers represent an industry of impressive diversity, from online sweet shops to beer experts, from fashion brands to specialists in technology, clothing and more.

Depth and breadth – the Growth 2000

This list includes regional retailers, direct-selling brands, specialists and foreign businesses selling into the UK. Each shares the same core challenges, which are reflected in how this research is presented: the need to be found in Search; the need to be with Mobile customers who are increasingly using smartphones; the need to provide efficient and flexible Delivery options; and the need to help customers share what they’ve learnt, to be Social.

It’s a list that includes familiar British names including Brompton Bicycle, The British Museum Shop and the Great Little Trading Company, and international sites that are doing significant business in the UK, from Spanish department store El Corte Inglés to German travel company bü, Australian website and, from the US, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store.

Designer fashion brands Donna Karan, Fiorucci, Hermes and Duchamp London are listed alongside homewares brands Hoover, Kitchenaid and Breville. All are among the rising tide of brands selling direct. Some leading brands already feature in the Top500; this list is evidence of plenty more challenger brands, both new and long-standing.

Other retailers with a new business model include subscription beauty box business Birchbox, veg box company Riverford Organic Farms and meat box supplier Field & Flower. Chic by Choice and Girl Meets Dress both offer dress rental.

The ranking also speaks to a wide range of specialist retailers now supplying shoppers online, from Ironmongery Direct and Chinese Motorcycle Parts Online to Cult Pens, and Jigsaw Puzzles Direct. A long roster of sports and outdoors suppliers starts, in alphabetical order, with Alpine Trek and continues to Yeomans Outdoor Leisure, by way of both Angling Active and Angling Direct, and Lovell Rugby among many others.

Altogether, this ranking illustrates a vibrant and varied retail industry, operating in competitive conditions where retailers must move and improve constantly in order to keep their place in the market. In this soup of retailers, fighting for attention, niche stores that offer knowledgeable services to a well-defined community may outcompete the Top500 retailers in their depth of knowledge and personal service, even though their turnover, web traffic and store network are smaller.

To see the report in full, visit

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