Luxury department store retailer Harvey Nichols is to sell a selection of its fashion offer online for winter.

The retailer, which has until now only offered a transactional function for its food and “non-sized” accessories, will add some of its more commoditised fashion options to the site as part of a trial.

Chief executive Joseph Wan told Retail Week the plan is not an about-face on online strategy. Wan has in the past been cautious the online route for fashion, saying the platform does not work for items priced at the luxury end of the market.

However, as revealed by Retail Week last year, Harvey Nichols is set to launch a raft of young-fashion and more mainstream brands in stores to counter the downturn.
Wan told Retail Week that the edited online fashion offer would be a support function for its bricks-and-mortar stores and not another route to market for the retailer.

Wan said: “Our policy has not changed in that it is not becoming another door or outlet for our business. The strategy would be supported by product or stock from the stores. In order to give confidence to our customer they can collect from stores if they wish or have them delivered.”

Wan said that the types of products that could be trialled online include highly commoditised items such as denim and shirts. He plans to broaden the offer each year after a review of each season’s performance.

Harvey Nichols will launch its younger-fashion offer early next year, targeting a more recession-proof customer with increased levels of disposable income. In London, at its Knightsbridge store, it will convert its fourth floor to offer mainstream brands in August and re-open it in January or February next year. It is also poised to launch a Harvey Nichols own-brand.

Harvey Nichols revealed to Retail Week in March that profits were expected to drop 40 per cent to £10m in the year to March 31. Group sales were set to fall 5 per cent.