Retail Week’s ranking of the UK’s top 30 retailers by the proportion of online sales they generate sees Matchesfashion.com take top position.

The top 30 retailers by the proportion of online sales

RankRetailer% of UK sales generated online
1 Matchesfashion 55.8%
2 Better Bathrooms 50.0%*
2 Jessops 50.0%*
4 Argos 49.0%
5 Fortnum & Mason 41.0%*
6 The White Company 40.0%*
7 John Lewis 37.6%
8 Mothercare 37.4%
9 Next 36.0%*
10 Lakeland 32.5%*
11 Mint Velvet 32.4%
12 Evans Cycles 30.0%*
13 Hobbs 25.0%
14 White Stuff 26.7%
15 Oak Furniture Land 26.5%*
16 French Connection 23.0%
16 Jaeger 23.0%
16 Reiss 23.0%*
19 Joules 22.9%
20 Liberty 22.0%*
20 Whistles 22.0%*
22 Ann Summers 21.0%*
23 Laura Ashley 20.1%
24 All Saints 20.0%*
24 Karen Millen 20.0%
24 Mountain Warehouse                     20.0%*
24 Urban Outfitters 20.0%*
28 House of Fraser 18.9%*
29 Ted Baker 18.5%
30 Fat Face 18.1%

*Retail Week Prospect estimates

Matchesfashion has transformed itself from its bricks-and-mortar roots into a leading multichannel player over the last five years, with over 55% of its overall UK sales coming through the online channel in 2015/16.

The luxury fashion sector as a whole had generally been slow to embrace the multichannel trend and Matchesfashion was no exception. It didn’t launch online until 2007.

However, Matchesfashion has responded to its customers and invested accordingly, including in a new ecommerce platform and in-store tablets that provide access to the online range, which has clearly led to results.

Perhaps there is no better success story in this ranking than Jessops, which shares second place with Better Bathrooms. While it collapsed into administration in early 2013, Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones saw its value and bought the brand, subsequently reinventing its business model. 

“Perhaps there is no better success story in this ranking than Jessops, which shares second place”

The administration process allowed Jessops to shed excess stores and become a leaner operation, adapting to the new multichannel reality. As a result, half of its sales are now thought to come through ecommerce.

While most of the online proportion of sales have increased for the retailers in the ranking, there are retailers such as Better Bathrooms and Oak Furniture Land (in fifteenth place) where the figure has actually declined as they have ramped up their physical presence.

Oak Furniture Land was initially established as an online business which traded on eBay. Since 2010 however, the furniture retailer has expanded aggressively and it currently trades through more than 70 stores based in large out-of-town locations and retail parks.

This has resulted in a declining proportion of online sales, with a little over a quarter of its sales estimated to come from the channel over its 2014/15 financial year.

“Retailers that did not make it inside the top 30 include the major grocers”

John Lewis, renowned for its seamless multichannel experience, took seventh place with 37.6% of its sales made online in 2015/16, which saw it edge ever closer to its target of generating 40% of sales online by 2020. Underlining its progress, this compares to a figure of just over 10% in 2008/09.

Retailers that did not make it inside the top 30 include the major grocers.

While Tesco’s ecommerce operation is one of the most sophisticated in UK retail – having become far more focused on the multichannel customer with initiatives such as same-day click and collect – just 7.2% of its UK sales were estimated to come from online in 2015/16.

It should not be forgotten, however, that in terms of actual sales, Tesco is among the largest online players in the UK.

Investment in the online channel should prove fruitful during times of uncertainty, such as Brexit.

Certainly, retailers that faired strongest in the challenging conditions following the previous recession included those that shifted their focus onto their multichannel operations.

House of Fraser, for instance, is estimated to have grown its online sales from a lowly 0.7% of total sales in 2008/09 to close to 20% by 2015/16.

Methodology

This data has been compiled by using the latest available financial year for which retailers have filed their annual reports or accounts at Companies House.

UK online sales figures have been used where possible, but ecommerce turnover for several retailers includes a small element of international sales. Estimates are indicated with an asterisk.

This ranking excludes buying groups, franchised formats and opticians.

The list was compiled by Retail Week Prospect, an intelligence service offering insight and analysis on the UK’s retailers.