Thursday 11 February 2021 7:26 am

Ted Baker races to improve ecommerce offering as online sales disappoint

Fashion retailer Ted Baker said it is racing to improve its digital shopping platform as it reported disappointing online sales in the fourth quarter, which were unable to offset the impact of store closures on revenue. 

The firm also revealed that it will take a £5m Brexit-related hit in its full-year results, reflecting extra duty and shipping costs partially offset by a new customs warehouse capability.

Read more: Exclusive: Ted Baker uses unpaid leave to pressure staff to return to the office

Group revenue fell 47 per cent in the quarter ended 30 January due to the closure of stores during coronavirus lockdowns.

Sales were also impacted by the drop in footfall when shops have been open, and the slump in demand for outerwear and occasionwear. 

Group ecommerce sales dipped one per cent and represented 63 per cent of total sales, compared to a 33 per cent share in the previous year.

Directly operated online sales increased two per cent after Ted Baker improved its payment method options and invested in digital media.

Despite the weak online sales, web traffic was up 17 per cent and new customers increased by eight per cent.

Ted Baker, which anticipates physical stores remaining closed until the end of May, said its new ecommerce platform is on track to launch at the end of the first quarter.

The retailer said the online shopping platform will “significantly improve” functionality and flexibility. 

Rachel Osborne, chief executive of Ted Baker, said: “While we have made encouraging strategic progress, trading over the fourth quarter was difficult and heavily impacted by the Covid pandemic, leading to the closure of many of our stores during the period and a lack of demand for outerwear and occasionwear over the festive season in particular. 

“Looking forward, we are taking a cautious planning approach and now assume that UK stores will remain closed until the end of May followed by a gradual recovery over the rest of the first half.”

Read more: Kent variant could become ‘world’s dominant strain’