Littlewoods owner Shop Direct posts record profits thanks to mobile sales boom

 
Kasmira Jefford
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Myleene Klass modelling for Very.co.uk

Shop Direct has posted a 78 per cent leap in full-year profits thanks to booming mobile sales and a surge in customers flocking to its main website Very.co.uk.

The online retailer, which pulled the shutters down on its catalogue business this year, said pre-tax profits reached a record £71.7m in the year to 30 June compared with £40.4m last year, on sales up three per cent to £1.8bn.

The company claimed its fashion-to-electricals website very.co.uk has become the UK’s fastest-growing department store after its sales soared by 21 per cent to £850m.

Shoppers ordering on their smartphones was the biggest driver of growth, with mobile sales on the site growing by 51 per cent in the year.

“Mobile is changing everything. It has gone from zero to 60 per cent of all sales in just four years,” chief executive Alex Baldock told City A.M.

Shop Direct, owned by Sirs Frederick and David Barclay, has undergone a radical digital overhaul over the last three years and has shifted from 72 per cent of sales coming from its catalogue business in 2012 to operating only online today.

Baldock said it has been investing heavily in “big data” and that its customer database built up from years of operating a catalogue business meant it had a “wealth of data” that allowed it send more personalised offers to its customers.

As part of its restructuring it has also closed down legacy brands including Isme and Woolworths in order to focus on Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com.

In February the group launched a luxury website, veryexclusive.co.uk, that aims to make high-end fashion affordable by allowing consumers to spread the cost of the purchase over several months.

Baldock said that after starting out with “outsized ambitions” the site was performing well and that autumn collections had been well received.

“Four months in, we’ve made a strong start to the new financial year too. We’re in good shape for the peak Christmas period, and we expect growth, discipline and transformation to drive another record year,” he said.

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