Feb 24, 2021
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Online retailers launch new trade body to champion digital cause

Feb 24, 2021

Increasingly under-fire e-commerce retailers are making a stand. Six of the biggest names in UK pureplay online retail have formed an industry association. ASOS, Boohoo, The Hut Group, Ocado, AO World and Gymshark have launched The UK Digital Business Association (UKDBA), announcing its arrival on Wednesday with the aim “to support and promote the continued evolution of the British digital-commerce sector”.


Fighting an increasingly bad press in which the success of digital retail has been increasingly cited for the demise of high street retail during the pandemic, alongside the thorny issue of not paying its fair share of tax, the body is now standing up for itself, heralding its achievements and promoting its future support for the UK economy. However, the body will also be lobbying the government on tax reform. 

“With the face of e-commerce reshaped, UKDBA members will be crucial in driving the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 putting customers at the heart of their ambitions, whilst supporting the current Government’s efforts to create a technology-driven global-facing economy”, it said.

It highlighted that its members were “deeply committed” to providing economic support through job creation and through continued investment in their businesses, with over £1bn of investment planned through the course of 2021.

The UK’s digital commerce sector is world leading. It has been a significant driver of UK economic value and been at the forefront of creating high-paying and highly skilled jobs throughout all regions of the UK. As the sector looks to the challenges of the future, UKDBA members hope to ensure e-commerce leads the debate”, it said. 

The body noted that through the course of the pandemic, its members have served tens of millions of customers both in the UK and across the globe. “Through continued innovation, our members have provided consumers with more convenience, choice and value, whilst ensuring an easier, more simplified shopping experience”.

UKDBA members saw an increase of 40.8% in employee numbers between 2016 and 2019, with around 10,000 further jobs expected to be added this year.

Commenting on the launch of the UKDBA, founder, Iain McDonald said: “Our membership has helped underpin the UK as the most advanced e-commerce market in Europe. The British online industry is one of the UK’s greatest success stories and the UKDBA is here to champion our members, their customers’ interests, providing them a voice in a rapidly evolving world.”

According to research published today by Grant Thornton looking into the economic impact of the sector before the pandemic, online retail grew 285.3%, with sales totalling £17.3bn in 2019 compared to £4.1bn in 2009. 

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