Our list of the biggest UK-based pureplay retailers by sales had some surprising entries. We take a look at five of the most successful, but perhaps less familiar, etailers giving the most established players a run for their money.
Ebuyer.com was founded in 1999 as a go-to destination for computer components, but soon expanded its offer to include a wide range of electricals. These days it stocks 40,000 products – everything from kettles to vacuum cleaners.
It also sells office supplies such as large packs of Yorkshire Tea, shredders and whiteboards to business customers. Based in Howden, East Yorkshire, the retailer sends out more than 20,000 orders every week.
Ebuyer’s sales fell slightly in its latest public accounts, with revenues at £188.7m in the 12 months to December 31, 2015, down from £188.9m the previous year.
Buy It Direct
Spookily similar in origin to Ebuyer, Buy It Direct was founded in 1999 with a focus on selling computers and electronics through its first iteration, Laptops Direct.
“The company reported sales of £120.7m in 2016, up from £104.1m the previous year, while pre-tax profit increased to £2.6m from £1.8m”
Since then it has expanded into other categories such as mobiles, gadgets and furniture, and developed standalone websites: Laptops Direct, Appliances Direct, Drones Direct, Direct TVs, Servers Direct and Furniture123.
It also runs Debenhams’ white label electrical site DebenhamsPlus.com. The etailer runs its operations across three sites in Huddersfield, Barnsley and the East Midlands.
The company reported sales of £120.7m in 2016, up from £104.1m the previous year, while pre-tax profit increased to £2.6m from £1.8m.
Launched in 2004 as Cheapsmells.com, Allbeauty.com rebranded in 2013 to reflect its broadened range.
Customers can fill their baskets with discounted skincare and haircare, fragrance and shaving products across brands including Calvin Klein, Biotherm and Ted Baker.
In 2008 it created a joint venture with ActivHair salon to launch Activebeauty.co.uk, which later merged with Allbeauty.com.
It has complemented its online business with a small foray into bricks and mortar after buying the ActivHair salon in Guernsey in 2011, and a second store and salon in Southampton in 2015. It also runs an outlet store on its website.
Which? magazine named Allbeauty.com the best online shop in 2016. The company posted sales of £68.6m in the 12 months to December 31, 2015.
Founded in 1981, Pro:Direct is a specialist sports store with dedicated websites across eight categories including soccer, running, tennis, cricket, basketball and rugby. Brands stocked on its site include Adidas, Nike, New Balance and Umbro.
The global retailer set up a soccer academy in 2010 and now has 10,000 young players registered across the UK, Portugal and Indonesia developing their football skills.
The sports etailer has branched into bricks and mortar – albeit in a very limited way – with a concept store on Carnaby Street, London featuring a grid of digital screens and interactive digital mannequins.
The company reported sales of £71.2m for the year to end of December 2015, up from £56.9m in 2014.
Wex Photographic is a relative grandfather of the internet, having been founded in 1997. As the name implies, the site is a dedicated service for photographers, offering cameras, lenses and lighting.
Today it offers 18,000 products and also caters for astronomy fans.
“Earlier this year the company swapped hands, with Barclays selling it to private-equity firm Aurelius for an undisclosed sum”
The company, which also has a showroom in Norwich, reported sales of £62.3m for the 12 months to June 30, 2016, up from £57m the previous year.
Earlier this year the company swapped hands, with Barclays selling it to private-equity firm Aurelius for an undisclosed sum. It is due to be merged with multichannel retailer Calumet Photographic.