Amid the squeezed margins, closing shops and boardroom upsets, a choose group of corporations are bucking the development by rising gross sales throughout the worst Christmas for retail in a decade.
Quite than the department shops or excessive road stalwarts, gross sales and income are coming from totally different instructions, powered by brands with a transparent sense of id, a dedication to serving their core buyer and the agility to maintain tempo with new tendencies.
Joules is a notable instance of a model succeeding in the style sector as rivals proceed to crumble. Throughout the seven weeks to 6 January the firm’s retail gross sales rose by 11.7% year-on-year throughout all product classes.
The style retailer, now in its 30th yr, describes itself as working a ‘total retail model’, spanning shops, on-line and wholesale throughout womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, footwear and residential. Along with greater than 120 shops throughout the UK and Eire, and over 2,000 stockists worldwide, the model additionally boasts a rising on-line enterprise which contributed virtually half of gross sales throughout the interval.
CEO Colin Porter attributes this success to the power of the Joules model, a rising loyal buyer base and the flexibility of its mannequin to adapt to altering buyer behaviours.
He explains that Joules is genuinely agnostic about the place its clients determine to buy. The wholesale technique has, nevertheless, helped Joules increase to 1,000 stockists in the US, a market that buys into the model’s family-focused values with a British twist.
Joules has additionally maintained a rigorously managed strategy to discounting, utilizing a wealthy database of shopper knowledge to offer focused gives.
We don’t have the luxurious of multi-million pound budgets, so we have to assume sensible.
Hannah Squirrell, Greggs
“You can’t ignore something like Black Friday because customers are used to it. So it’s more about how you use those sorts of events. On Black Friday we don’t do blanket discounts, we do targeted discounts. That works well for the customer and for us,” Porter explains.
From a advertising spend viewpoint the strategy is digital first, mixing e-mail, PPC and affiliate, alongside Fb and Instagram. The shops play an important position in elevating model consciousness and buying the majority of Joules’s new clients.
Moreover, it’s the model’s signature design fashion, tapping into the label’s outside roots, that helps Joules proceed to draw a rising cohort of consumers.
“We don’t chase fashion. Joules isn’t about being the fashion leader in the branded retail market, we’re about offering our customers products for their lifestyle, so an element of practicality done with a twist,” Porter explains.
“It’s about keeping your handwriting and your brand top of mind in all that you do. That makes you stand out from the crowd. When you chase fashion you’re quite often all chasing the same thing so you end up looking the same.”
READ MORE: How malls are preventing again to fight declining gross sales
Retail analyst Richard Hyman agrees that Joules advantages from having a specific ‘handwriting’ and the actual fact it isn’t for everybody is the model’s key power.
“It would be for more people if they watered it down a bit, but they haven’t and I think that’s exactly right. I know it’s a bit uncool now to talk about Ted Baker, but as a retail brand it is another great example. Ted is not for most people, but its philosophy is let those people shop in other places,” Hyman explains.
On this difficult market it’s important for retailers to concentrate on their core buyer and resist the temptation to attempt to appeal to clients with new product strains that dilute the model and sacrifice actual engagement, he provides.
“Joules, however, is a very good example. It is in all those channels [own retail, digital and wholesale] which is good. It covers all the potential bases, but the key thing is that it is in those channels in exactly the same way, with a tight, consistent and focused product,” says Hyman.
The artwork of shopkeeping
Specializing in the core buyer and creating nice product at an reasonably priced worth is all a part of the artwork of nice shopkeeping, based on Cornish womenswear model Seasalt.
The enterprise skilled a document Christmas with in-store gross sales rising by 31% in the 5 weeks to five January, on-line gross sales rocketing by 39% and worldwide progress up 35%.
Seasalt advantages from a combined mannequin of retail, wholesale and digital.
Seasalt is flourishing because of a combined mannequin of own-retail, digital and wholesale, matched with a full-price technique with scheduled durations of discounting. CEO Paul Hayes explains it was a acutely aware determination for the model to not comply with the development for discounting to take care of model integrity.
“From a product perspective we believe, where possible, in using the best fabrics so we can bring the best quality products to market. Maintaining that full price sell-through means we can continue to innovate,” Hayes explains.
“Then, in order to run a good website you need to be able to invest in technology and marketing, and you also need to invest to build the sorts of stores we do. We believe we need to create a quality environment, but in order to do that you have to keep your margins high.”
On Black Friday we don’t do blanket reductions, we do focused reductions. That works properly for the buyer and for us.
Colin Porter, Joules
One other core a part of the model proposition is having a top quality customer support workforce, which is predicated in Cornwall. The model prioritises variety throughout its groups, which span 1,000 individuals in the UK, in order that employees can relate to clients of all ages and backgrounds.
Seasalt can also be very thought-about in the method it approaches opening new shops, with its 60th retailer because of open its doorways in February in Windsor. The model is eager by no means to open in a location only for the sake of it, preferring to seek out websites that match with its clients’ life.
“We don’t always look for the obvious location. You wouldn’t necessarily have thought that we would have opened in Lytham St Annes last year; it wasn’t an obvious choice as there aren’t a number of similar retailers in that area,” Hayes explains. “Some of our best locations are also in market towns and we’re not afraid to try other things as well.”
Protecting it lean
One enterprise reaping the rewards of a lean operational construction is worth footwear participant Shoe Zone. The retailer’s income rose by 1.eight% to £160.6m in the yr to 29 September, with digital income up 19.9% to £9.8m and pre-tax revenue growing by 18.four% to £11.3m.
CEO Nick Davis believes the success of the enterprise is underpinned by having a very clear buyer proposition, a provide chain dealing direct with factories in China and an expanded providing of worldwide brands corresponding to Skechers, Clarks and Kickers.
“If you look at what other successful discounters like Aldi and Lidl have done in terms of bringing in a new demographic to their business, it’s very much like that,” he explains.
“If you can offer the right value proposition for all of your customers you can build on the demographic and we’ve put a lot of work into the branding, and the look and feel of our stores, to make them more contemporary and inviting.”
Shoe Zone has redesigned its shops to save lots of £50,000 per refit.
To drive its digital footprint, Shoe Zone plans to introduce an autonomous digital workforce that may not play “second fiddle” to the shops. The plan is to double its digital advertising useful resource, deliver in a brand new search engine marketing company and rent a digital purchaser liable for rising the vary of 150 on-line unique strains by tenfold.
Shoe Zone has additionally stepped up its communication with shoppers, growing the variety of emails despatched in 2018 by 26.2%, which drove an 18.eight% gross sales improve in comparison with the earlier yr.
“One of the big drivers has been making sure what we’re offering them is good, engaging content that has a promotional lean to it, so we are doing genuine giveaways,” Davis explains. “The other driver is to improve the segmentation of the data to make sure people feel like they’re getting rewarded with loyalty, because they’re getting relevant offers.”
Shoe Zone’s robust retailer footprint is driving the digital enterprise, explains Davis. Solely 11% of its on-line orders are returned – return charges are sometimes quoted as being round 30% on common – plus 90% of those merchandise are returned in-store the place consumers can trade or be bought an alternate product.
The enterprise stays dedicated to the excessive road, regardless of the reality Shoe Zone is including to its variety of out-of-town ‘big box’ shops. Of its 496 UK shops, 25 at the moment are in out-of-town places with plans to open an extra 20 by the finish of 2019. Crucially, the firm by no means commits to leases of greater than 5 years to offer it higher flexibility.
Every retailer now opens every week faster than regular because of a modular design that may be fitted by employees, saving £50,000 per refit. The profitability of the retailer format means every new store sometimes pays the enterprise again inside one yr.
Apart from operating a lean operation, Davis believes Shoe Zone advantages from being a “sticky brand” that draws a loyal buyer base.
“People do sometimes trade down to us in slightly tougher times when they are looking around for good value and realise we’re a diamond in the rough,” he provides.
Moderately than enjoying catch up, some brands are defying the gloom by holding tempo with evolving shopper tastes.
Bakery chain Greggs has excelled in the grab-and-go market by tapping into the newest meals tendencies. The sell-out success of its vegan sausage roll, launched in January, was powered by a tongue-in-cheek YouTube video shot in the fashion of an Apple iPhone advert.
“We don’t have the luxury of multi-million pound budgets, so we need to think smart, and we always look to ensure that every pound of our spend counts,” says Greggs buyer and advertising director, Hannah Squirrell.
“Therefore, we need to make sure our activity stands out and is never just a run-of-the-mill advert. We always think about how the work we create can drive conversations and get people talking and thinking about Greggs.”
In 2018, the bakery chain catered to the festive market with the launch of its first Christmas present vary of doughnut socks and sausage roll telephone instances. This festive cheer, mixed with a transparent give attention to the breakfast sector, helped Greggs develop gross sales by 7.2% throughout the monetary yr ending 29 December. Like-for-like gross sales rose by 2.9% as the bakery chain opened 149 shops, taking its complete to 1,953 nationwide. This yr Greggs expects to open a further 90 to 100 places.
Squirrell insists the product and repair will proceed to evolve, with Greggs utilizing advertising to make the bakery chain imply extra to a higher variety of individuals by holding its message “down-to-earth and relevant”.
READ MORE: How Greggs’ CEO Roger Whiteside reignited the model
Expertise financial system
Along with getting nearer to their core buyer, hopping on the newest development and ramping up their on-line funding, many profitable retailers are specializing in their model expertise.
This Christmas, craft specialist Hobbycraft capitalised on the rise of personalised gifting, with the reputation of its experiential in-store workshops and ‘How to’ on-line content material driving like-for-like income by 7.1% in-store and 28% on-line in the six weeks to 24 December.
Gross sales of Hobbycraft’s ‘Christmas Eve Boxes’, personalised bins for youngsters, rocketed by 119%, whereas views of its weblog content material and Christmas look e-book surged by 10%.
The retailer additionally struck gold with its ‘12 Makes of Christmas’ workshops displaying consumers the best way to make a special crafting undertaking every week. Throughout the festive interval alone greater than 21,000 crafters took half in the workshops throughout Hobbycraft’s 94 shops.
“The ‘12 Makes of Christmas’ was publicised through all our social media channels, our blog and in-store, so very joined up across all the touchpoints,” explains head of selling, Joel Pickering.
We’ve put a number of work into the branding, and the feel and appear of our shops, to make them extra modern and alluring.
Nick Davis, Shoe Zone
“This year alone we’ve driven 100,000 people into stores through this experiential form of marketing. It’s quite a new thing for Hobbycraft. We’ve always done the occasional workshop, but by giving customers a really clear overall plan of what’s happening each week, making it really easy to book online and come down to the store, it’s becoming a thing.”
In addition to investing in the in-store expertise, Hobbycraft needs to maneuver into video on Fb Stay and Instagram Tales, giving clients a view of the tasks throughout a number of platforms. This yr, the retailer will construct on the success of its workshop programme with a brand new initiative referred to as ‘Get Started In’, introducing its three.7 million Hobbycraft Membership members to a brand new interest every month.
“We listen to our customers, they want value and newness, but they also want help and advice and we can see other retailers shift into this online space. For us it’s a great opportunity to continue to really grow our business and take it to the next level,” Pickering provides.
It was additionally a bumper festive interval for The Perfume Store, which noticed on-line gross sales rise by 19.three%, with general like-for-like gross sales up three.6% in the six weeks to 29 December. The retailer tapped into the expertise financial system with the roll out of pop-up ‘sniff bars’ at its shops in Leeds and Birmingham, permitting shoppers to pattern fragrances.
The Perfume Store’s pop-up ‘sniff bars’.
The idea responds to a want amongst shoppers for recent, relaxed purchasing experiences, explains advertising director, Lisa Windsor. The plan is to introduce extra pop-ups in excessive footfall areas, in addition to work on ‘sniff bar’ occasions and model takeovers.
She says clients responded nicely to extras akin to comparable to engraving and present wrap that make presents really feel extra private.
“We took the time to assess what our customer wants and needs, ensuring we are always developing to suit their requirements. Our whole ‘No idea?’ Christmas campaign was focused on solving problems for our customers. We even had category pages for each customer type [Secret Santa, luxury gifts, etc] to make it easier to shop.”
A wider perspective
Whether or not they hail from Leicester or Newcastle, Bournemouth or Cornwall, a standard thread between these profitable companies is the proven fact that they’re all headquartered outdoors the capital.
In a retail surroundings the place understanding the shopper is essential, retail analyst Hyman believes it’s a big benefit for retailers to know that London shouldn’t be consultant of the remainder of Britain.
“It’s amazing how many people in London never go outside the M25, so it makes their appreciation of how people live their lives, what their values are and how they prioritise their household economics much more difficult,” he explains.
“They can spend whatever they want on customer research, but it’s about starting off knowing that. Should retail businesses move their headquarters out of London? That’s ridiculous. Is it an advantage? It’s a critical factor to understand your customers so it can be an advantage to have a better understanding of the whole market you trade in as opposed to just the capital.”
Seasalt’s Paul Hayes believes that being based mostly in Cornwall not solely provides the model its distinctive design really feel, however has additionally enabled it to harness the expertise of creatives dwelling in the space, which provides to the model authenticity.
Whereas Pickering isn’t positive if it makes a distinction the place Hobbycraft’s headquarters are based mostly, he agrees it’s important to know the nuances of various shoppers and the way they stay, each in London and elsewhere in the UK.
“When we open new stores in different parts of the country we do see trends,” he provides. “In certain parts of the UK we see certain trends happening that don’t happen elsewhere, so largely speaking that’s our job to get out there and make sure we understand so we can be on the front foot.”
if ( typeof( FB ) == ‘undefined’ )
// add the fb-root tag
if ( ! doc.getElementById( ‘fb-root’ ) )
var el = doc.createElement(“div”);
el.id = ‘fb-root’;
window.fbTrack = perform( motion, goal )
// basic ga.js
if ( typeof _gaq !== ‘undefined’ )
_gaq.push( [ ‘_trackSocial’, ‘facebook’, action, target ] );
// common analytics.js
if ( typeof ga !== ‘undefined’ )
window.fbAsyncInit = perform()
window.fbProfile = null;
window.fbAuthResponse = null;
window.fbPermissions = null;
// init the FB JS SDK
appId : ‘pwoollen’, // App ID from the App Dashboard
channelUrl : ‘//www.marketingweek.com/channel.html’, // Channel File for x-domain communication
standing : true, // verify the login standing upon init?
cookie : true, // set periods cookies to permit your server to entry the session?
xfbml : true, // parse XFBML tags on this web page?
model : ‘v2.1’
// get consumer profile
if ( ! window.fbProfile )
FB.getLoginStatus( perform( rsp )
fbAuthResponse = rsp;
if ( rsp.standing === ‘related’ )
FB.api( ‘/me’, perform( rsp )
if ( rsp.error )
window.fbProfile = rsp;
else if ( rsp.standing === ‘not_authorized’ )
// consumer not authorised with app
// the consumer is not logged in to Fb.
// monitor occasions
FB.Occasion.subscribe( ‘edge.create’, perform( goal )
fbTrack( ‘like’, goal );
FB.Occasion.subscribe( ‘edge.take away’, perform( goal )
fbTrack( ‘in contrast to’, goal );
FB.Occasion.subscribe( ‘message.ship’, perform( goal )
fbTrack( ‘ship’, goal );
FB.Occasion.subscribe( ‘remark.create’, perform( response )
fbTrack( ‘remark’, response.href );
FB.Occasion.subscribe( ‘remark.take away’, perform( response )
fbTrack( ‘take away remark’, response.href );
FB.Occasion.subscribe( ‘auth.login’, perform( response )
fbTrack( ‘login’, response.standing );
FB.Occasion.subscribe( ‘auth.logout’, perform( response )
fbTrack( ‘logout’, response.standing );
// Further initialization code reminiscent of including Occasion Listeners goes right here
// feedback replace button
$(‘.fb-comments’).earlier than( ‘Fetch new feedback’ );
$( doc ).on( ‘click on.fbcomments’, ‘.fb-update-comments’, perform() window.fbAsyncInit(); );
// share dialog perform
$( doc ).on( ‘click on.fbshare’, ‘a.fb-share’, perform(e)
var $this = $( this );
technique : ‘feed’, // ‘share’,
hyperlink : $this.knowledge( ‘hyperlink’ ) || $( ‘meta[property=”og:url”]’ ).attr( ‘content material’ ),
href : $this.knowledge( ‘href’ ) || $( ‘meta[property=”og:url”]’ ).attr( ‘content material’ ),
image : $this.knowledge( ‘image’ ) || $( ‘meta[property=”og:image”]’ ).attr( ‘content material’ ),
identify : $this.knowledge( ‘identify’ ) || $( ‘meta[property=”og:title”]’ ).attr( ‘content material’ ),
caption : $this.knowledge( ‘caption’ ) || ”,
description : $this.knowledge( ‘description’ ) || $( ‘meta[property=”og:description”]’ ).attr( ‘content material’ ),
show : ‘popup’ // UI dialog is damaged -scroll to prime situation
, perform( response )
// monitor as no FB.Occasion.subscribe for shares
fbTrack( ‘share’, $this.knowledge( ‘href’ ) || $( ‘meta[property=”og:url”]’ ).attr( ‘content material’ ) );
// custom like
$( doc ).on( ‘click on.fblike’, ‘.fb-like-custom’, perform( e )
var hyperlink = this,
href = $( this ).knowledge( ‘href’ ),
id = $( this ).knowledge( ‘id’ );
if ( href )
$( hyperlink ).addClass( ‘fb-loading’ );
FB.api( ‘/me/og.likes’, ‘POST’,
, perform( rsp )
if ( rsp.error )
// already favored
if ( rsp.error.code == 3501 )
// delete the like
FB.api( ‘/’ + rsp.error.message.exchange( /^.*? (d+)$/, ‘$1’ ), ‘DELETE’, perform( rsp )
$( hyperlink ).removeClass( ‘fb-loading’ );
if ( rsp )
$( hyperlink ).removeClass( ‘fb-liked’ );
// not logged in
else if ( rsp.error.code == 2500 )
$( hyperlink ).focus();
$( hyperlink ).removeClass( ‘fb-loading’ );
if ( rsp.id )
$( hyperlink ).addClass( ‘fb-liked’ );
(perform(d, s, id)
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s);
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js”;
(doc, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));