Johnnie Boden, founder of home shopping fashion retailer Boden, insisted the catalogue is here to stay and is still one of its strongest selling tools.
Boden said that, despite around 90% of its orders being made online, web-only products sell at half the rate of those which are also advertised in its catalogues.
“Browsing a catalogue is still easier than browsing a website. We’d love it if it wasn’t, we’d make a lot more money but people love it. People look at the catalogue and order from the website. It’s a very important sales tool,” he said.
Boden admitted that the retailer had a difficult start to the year, which he attributed to both the economy and the unseasonable weather, however he said trade was now “strong”.
Kidswear was particularly “tricky” according to Boden, which he said was an area his customers were compromising as discretionary spend becomes increasingly squeezed.
The retailer, which has become synonymous with the middle classes and counts the likes of Prime Minister’s David Cameron’s wife Samantha among its fans, has been attracting a less well-off customer base in recent times according to its founder.
“As we grow, we are expanding into households which have less money so the average punter has the household income of £70,000, two years ago that was £90,000. Their budget’s are tighter,” he said.
International, which already accounts for just over half of the retailer’s sales, is a major focus in the year ahead with building its burgeoning US business a priority.
Boden predicts that overseas will account for 75% of total sales in the next five years.
Although expanding into China is on the retailer’s radar, Boden said he was “a bit nervous” about making the move now.
He said: “People could well be overstating the opportunity in China. We might do it, but we might have to resize the product. In the US there’s a culture of direct shopping, in China shopping is a key recreational activity. You need to have regular credit card use and great delivery service, [China] does not tick all the boxes.”