Merry Christmas for Very.co.uk as fashion and sports shine
The newly-renamed Very Group reported buoyant Christmas sales for its star Very.co.uk brand on Wednesday with “strong peak trading driven by growth in fashion and sports”.
The company, which until recently was called Shop Direct, said the Very webstore increased its retail sales by 6.1% year-on-year in the seven weeks up to and including December 27. That was ahead of the wider UK non-food retail market and was also helped by stronger sales of electricals.
In fact, the company saw sales growth across all four of its product categories with fashion and sportswear up 9.6% and within that, sportswear rose 19.8%. Electricals were up 5.7%, with home rising 1.4% and ‘other categories’ ahead by 2.9%. Top sellers included wearable tech such as Apple’s AirPods and the tech giant’s Series 3 Apple Watch, as well as Nike Air Max 270 trainers.
Meanwhile, total Very.co.uk revenue including the financial services income it derives from selling its products on credit terms, rose 3.4%.
The webstore benefited from higher visitor traffic as it saw a 14.4% increase in website visitors to 92.5 million. And it enjoyed strong new customer growth with new credit customers up 22% year-on-year.
Sales via the Very app were up an impressive 32.3% year-on-year and it also benefited from launching its Black Friday season early (on November 8) as both website and app traffic rose 18% compared to the previous year’s campaign.
Clearly, Very as a whole was a big success story for the season, but what about when we include the firm’s less buoyant Littlewoods operation? That appeared to be more of a drain on the company as group retail sales with Littlewoods included rose only 2.5% and group revenue was flat in the seven weeks.
Moving away from the headline sales story, it was also interesting to see some of what went on behind the scenes and just how much this reflected changes in modern retail.
For a start, the company said that “as a result of improved customer service performance, better delivery processes and increased stock availability, customer service contact reduced 20% year-on-year”. And 202,000 customer queries were handled via the Very Assistant chatbot.
The company was very proactive in using data, personalised emails, on-site tracking, social media monitoring and more to see how customers were behaving and to make sure they could find and buy what they wanted, when they wanted. And the retail sales percentages at the Very webstore show that this activity clearly paid off.
The company also said that it delivered 6.9 million parcels via delivery partners Yodel, Arrow XL and Royal Mail and a massive 25% of parcels were delivered via Collect+. Importantly, it allowed customers to divert their orders to Collect+ locations even when they were out for delivery.
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