The Fragrance Shop revealed a 21.5% EBITDA surge to £11.3m in its full-year to March 31. Retail Week speaks to chief executive Sanjay Vadera about how he increased profit through his multichannel strategy.
Retail Week: How do you feel about The Fragrance Shop’s performance?
Sanjay Vadera: We’re pleased but obviously we can’t stay complacent. It’s tough out there and I think footfall will continue to be tough across the malls and UK shopping centres. There is still a north/south divide in footfall and disposable incomes.
My point is, we would be doing a lot better than this [if the economy picked up]. We have had to work very hard to achieve this growth.
How have you driven growth?
It’s a combination of new stores with the luxury fit out, while the training we have given staff has paid off in leaps and bounds.
But if more footfall was coming to the malls and therefore to our stores, we would definitely be converting more sales.
How have you improved your online business?
We launched click-and-collect last year and it now makes up close to 20% of our online sales. Try it First and the Discovery Club have been great ways of driving that.
Try it First gives the customer the comfort of knowing that they can return the bottle unopened because they have a sample. It has been a real success.
The Discovery Club is a safe way for customers to try the fragrance and they get their £5 investment back in £5 vouchers for the stores. We introduced it late last year and membership is increasing all the time and has been really really good for us. I have a good feeling that it will be massive.
Are you growing stores?
We opened 12 stores last year and we introduced a clear distinction of the luxury frgrances and this has been very good for us. The customer can see what fragrances are luxury and which are premium due to the better fit-out and ranging of the store.
You opened the first larger browsing store format in Glasgow last year, how has that been trading?
We have had a few learnings from the store, which we have tweaked and we’re very happy with it. The rest of the estate is centred around the counter and so this store is about learning and keeping the Fragrance Shop values in line. It’s nothing major, it’s just to do with navigation.
We want another of these stores at the end of this year or early next year , hopefully located in the south
You have said before that you want 100 more stores in the next five years and 15-20 larger stores - is this still the strategy?
Yes. There is scope to open more stores and this is challenging as online and multichannel has grown. Each store we open we ask ‘is it necessary? Will online cover that area?’ As we expand the state we have to make sure we are doing it for the right reasons. We want to open 15 stores this year.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to offer customers the ability to order from the extended online range in store, with in store orders which will launch in August or early September. And then in October we will introduce some sort of loyalty scheme which will be app-based.
There is a lot of scoping to be done to make it right. We want to make sure it is functional and engaging and customers see it as a benefit.
We’re trying to offer the same service online that you would get in store. The customer experience should be the same across all channels.