Boohoo boss Carol Kane stated its ambitions to become the Inditex of etail. We explore who other retailers are looking to emulate, and what their chances of success are.

Boohoo… wants to be Inditex

What it said:

At The Delivery Conference this week, Boohoo’s joint chief executive Carol Kane said: “We haven’t got an active mergers and acquisitions strategy, we just look at what comes our way. Our strategy would be very similar to Inditex.”

Boohoo boss Carol Kane said it wanted to emulate Zara-owned Inditex


Boohoo boss Carol Kane said it wanted to emulate Zara-owned Inditex


Inditex, which operates eight retail brands across the fashion and home sectors including Zara and Pull & Bear, dominates the Spanish – and many international – high streets with its multiple brands.

Kane says that Boohoo wants to emulate the approach in online retail in the UK, killing off its competition for the 16-24 millennial market.

Kane also heralds the speed of Inditex’s supply chain in getting current fashion trends onto its shelves fast.

Can it succeed?

Yes – but it has some way to go before it matches Inditex, the world’s biggest fashion retailer.

Boohoo has embarked on an aggressive acquisition strategy in recent months, picking up PrettyLittleThing – a business set up by Boohoo co-founder Mahmud Kamani’s sons - in December and is currently bidding for US brand Nasty Gal.

So far, Boohoo has acquired retailers with similar demographics and price points to its own, while the strength of Inditex’s retail portfolio lies in its ability to cater to shoppers with varying styles and budgets.

Meanwhile, in terms of supply chain, Boohoo is doing a stellar job at emulating Inditex’s success.

The retailer can bring clothes from the catwalk to the closet within six weeks, and produces 500 new lines a week.

That is impressive. Inditex however – the master of fast fashion – can get products to store in three weeks.

If Boohoo can widen its appeal to different types of shoppers without sacrificing its speed to market, it could be well-placed to follow in Inditex’s footsteps.

Sports Direct… wants to be Selfridges

What it said?

Sports Direct founder and chief executive Mike Ashley said last year: “We continue to elevate our sports retail proposition for our key third party brand partners and customers, as we progress towards our medium- to -long term goal of becoming the ‘Selfridges’ of sports retail.”


Sports Direct may be famous for its ‘pile em high, sell em cheap’ philosophy, but Mike Ashley believes it is no longer fit for purpose.

“There has been a shift in what brands expect from retailers in terms of presentation, customer service, stock availability,” he said at the retailer’s AGM last September.

Like Selfridges, he wants Sports Direct to attract the best brands and best products from their collections.

Ashley also wants to create a department store feel with massive shops, which he believes should be executed jointly with third party brands.

Can it succeed?

Hmm. It seems audacious that Sports Direct, purveyor of the giant branded mug, can rival Selfridges – the perennial winner of the world’s best department store.

However, Ashley is making some moves to prove us wrong.

Sports Direct has vowed to open 12 to 18 of the large, 60,000 sq ft-plus stores that Ashley believes creates an emporium-like feel and allows the sportswear retailer to showcase key brands such as Adidas, Under Armour and Nike, as they would in their own stores.

The sportswear mogul has also vowed to respect the pricing policies of the brands the company sells, and says Sports Direct will sell more full-price product going forward.

“If Nike wants to sell a football boot at £500, it will be sold at £500 in Sports Direct rather than £400 like it would have previously. You will see a lot more full RRPs [recommended retail prices] in Sports Direct stores,” Ashley said at last year’s AGM.

Sports Direct is also mulling a move to sell more of its struggling brands as it bids to create a more upmarket business.

Although these moves should help Sports Direct become more premium, shaking off its ‘pile em high, sell em cheap’ image is a mammoth task that even Mike Ashley might struggle to complete.

House of Fraser… wants to be Nordstrom

What it said:

Former House of Fraser chief executive John King said in 2007:If I was to look at the US, Nordstrom would be a good choice. We want to move towards premium, but still offer great value through private label.’


US department store chain Nordstrom is very much premium. It sells brands including Armani, Rebecca Minkoff and Ted Baker.

It is also renowned for its impeccable customer relations. Its service is so famous that a book has been dedicated to it – The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence – and urban legends have grown around it.

Can it succeed?

The jury is still out.

King, who left the retailer in 2015, may have added more premium brands to the retailer’s roster. However, it is known to partake in heavy discounting at times.

Meanwhile, many of House of Fraser’s stores are in dire need of a refurbishment. Chinese consortium Sanpower, which bought the retailer in 2014, has yet to invest in revamping its tired store estate, which somewhat hamper its premium aspirations.

When it comes to service, John Lewis is still the department store that most would associate with exemplary customer relations.

Kingfisher…wants to be Apple

What it said: 

Kingfisher chief executive Veronique Laury said in 2015: “There is no one winning formula, what they [Apple] are doing is innovating and giving something unique to the customer.”


When Kingfisher boss Veronique Laury unveiled her new strategy in 2015 she took inspiration from tech titan Apple.

She said Apple has proved it is possible to run large retail spaces with only a small quantity of product.

Can it succeed?

The signs are positive so far.

While Kingfisher’s DIY brands B&Q and Screwfix are unlikely to gain the same cult following that Apple has, Laury has made massive in streamlining her product range – much like Apple that has limited products.

Laury is in the early stages of its One Kingfisher plan, which is aimed at achieving greater coordination between the group’s different operating companies, but has begun rationalising its supplier network and is increasingly – like Apple – selling the same products in the same way across its various fascias.

And the new-concept B&Q store, with a softer, cleaner feel, reflects Apple’s distinct and slick approach to physical retailing.

SuperGroup… wants to be Ralph Lauren

What it said:

Supergroup founder Julian Dunkerton said in 2012: “We could learn a lot from what Ralph Lauren has done.”


Dunkerton wants to emulate Ralph Lauren’s cross-category success. He wants to exploit the popularity of the Superdry brand to launch in new categories such as make-up and watches, in the same way the iconic fashion brand had done.

SuperGroup also wants to attain the same level of global recognition as the American fashion designer.

Can it succeed?

Things are looking good.

Back when Dunkerton made the statement in 2012, SuperGroup had already dipped its toe in the waters of fragrances, sunglasses and formal menswear.

But it has since diversified into cosmetics, such as nail varnishes and lipsticks, and expanded its fashion into skiwear, rugby clothing and gymwear.

The retailer has also followed in Ralph Lauren’s footsteps by expanding overseas, and now has a presence in territories like the US, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

The Superdry brand is still strong and Dunkerton et al still have Ralph Lauren in their sights.