The RetailX Top500 – previously the InternetRetailing Top500 – has tracked the leading ecommerce and multichannel retailers that sell in the UK since 2015. At the top of the index are two groups that highlight the very best performing retailers in UK retail. The Elite group features those at the cutting edge of performance, while Leading retailers are those that demonstrate best practice across their businesses. Both lists change from year to year, driven in part by the metrics selected in the Strategy & Innovation Dimension to best reflect retail state-of-the-art.
Six retailers appear in this year’s Elite group: Amazon, Argos, Dunelm, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next. Amazon is the only retailer to have appeared in the Top500 Elite every year since the index was first compiled in 2015. Its six top rankings are significant because it is the only online-only retailer ever to have been named an Elite retailer, reflecting the way it has used its performance in Operations and Logistics to rival those with stores.
That’s because a company’s size, as measured in the Footprint Dimension, accounts for 30% of its ranking in the Top500 – and most of the UK’s largest retailers are multichannel, selling both online and through shops.
Argos and John Lewis come closest to rivalling Amazon’s track record. Both appear in this category for the fifth time, having been ranked Elite all but one year. Argos was ranked Leading in 2017, as was John Lewis in 2018.
Marks & Spencer is ranked an Elite retailer for the fourth time, having been ranked Leading in 2016 and 2019. Next and Dunelm both appear for the first time. Next has previously been classed as a Leading retailer on four occasions. But Dunelm moves straight up to the top echelon, having been classed as a Leading retailer on only one previous occasion, in 2018.
Elite retailers Amazon and John Lewis can be classified as ‘department’ type retailers, selling across a number of distinct categories. The same is true, to an extent, for Marks & Spencer, which sells clothing, homewares and food, and also Next, which trades in the fashion and homewares categories. While Dunelm too has a department-style structure, that structure is firmly focused around homewares.
It’s notable that this year there are no supermarkets ranked Elite, after three years in which at least one grocer, variously Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, has consistently appeared in this ranking.
The Leading group this year features 19 retailers. Fashion clothing is the largest category to be represented in the group. Asos is the only pureplay in a group of five that also includes Dorothy Perkins, H&M, New Look and River Island.
Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco all appear from the supermarket sector, while health and beauty is represented by Boots, Holland & Barrett and Space NK – the latter making its first appearance.
Trade and DIY tools and equipment retailers are well represented by B&Q, Toolstation and Wickes. Wilko also makes an appearance, although it also sells in categories from health and beauty through to stationery, crafts and toys. Footwear retailer Schuh is ranked Leading for the fourth time, sports clothing businesses JD Sports and Evans Cycles both for the second time, and outdoor retailer Blacks makes its first appearance in the group.