As more retailers become online-only, The Hut Group continues to grow at a fast pace and shows no signs of slowing down, which is why it is Google Cloud International Growth Retailer of the Year
Online health and beauty retailer The Hut Group only began trading in 2004, and only in the UK.
Rapid expansion has followed ever since and, on the back of investment in its proprietary ecommerce platform and a string of international acquisitions, about 70% of the etailer’s sales come from overseas.
While The Hut Group may not have to worry about opening stores in new markets with all the complex, costly and risky factors that entails, it does have some similar challenges to its bricks-and-mortar counterparts: expanding its logistics network and fulfilment capabilities and catering consummately for local markets, with tailored product offerings and through a variety of languages and currencies.
The Hut Group’s history and its achievements over the last year are textbook in how to expand.
The direct-to-consumer giant has invested heavily behind the scenes to power its international growth, establishing a platform that integrates a network of local courier businesses, fulfilment and customer services that serve 160 localised websites in 35 languages using 42 currencies across 30 payment methods.
In the last year alone the etailer, which sends 37 million items to customers worldwide, has invested in new production and distribution centres in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia.
The Hut Group, whose sites include Lookfantastic and MyProtein, also bought Acheson & Acheson, a beauty product developer and manufacturer, likely to play a key part in its drive to become a fully integrated global leader in beauty and wellbeing.
Its growth has been remarkable for a company that was originally a small tech start-up not so long ago. And one which, the judges agreed, seems to be built on a strong foundation thanks to continual reinvestment.
“It’s been a really phenomenal growth,” one of the judges said. “The Hut Group defied a lot of the sceptics. It’s a huge powerhouse of growth. The business is growing rapidly and it seems to be going through to the bottom line.”
Another judge was impressed by the etailer’s ability to maintain a rapid pace of growth over the years.
“The Hut Group is truly international,” the judge said. “That consistency over a period of time is something to be valued, especially at the moment. A lot of retailers are finding things hard, but this is a good successful retailer. It shows no sign of peaking.”
The etailer has expanded its operations overseas, and sales growth has followed. Between 2016 and 2017 the company’s international sales increased by a remarkable 62%, up to £512m.
The fact that The Hut Group is using its own technology
makes its achievements all the more impressive. Technology platform THG Ingenuity has allowed the etailer to take control of each and every aspect of its operations as it now goes on to pursue an own-brand strategy and acquires new businesses.
From its base in Manchester, the group controls an expanding overseas empire, the success of which is translating into expansion at home. The Hut Group is growing and hiring, and new recruits are developed through the etailer’s internal development and learning programme – the Academy.
As one judge said: “I really like what it is doing with the training academy in Manchester as a way of developing talent. And the etailer is bringing in some very strong shareholders. It has got very strong governance.”
In November of 2018, the etailer revealed it was developing a new business campus close to Manchester Airport, including 1 million sq ft of office and studio space, to be followed by a content creation studio close by.
The Hut Group has become an increasingly powerful global digital player and there is little sign that the pace of growth will slow down any time soon.