The White Company has cut its distinctive, bleached swath across the upmarket homewares field in recent years, at least until 2009 when recession finally cut annual sales growth.
The White Company has cut its distinctive, bleached swath across the upmarket homewares field in recent years, at least until 2009 when recession finally cut annual sales growth. Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s new profile examines the prospects for a recovery in growth rates - Christmas 2010 was reportedly strong - for an operation with an Achilles heel of low, but rapid expansion-related, profitability.
Management has stated The White Company ‘should’ deliver significant sales and profit growth in the year ending next month, with sales in the nine weeks to last Christmas Eve up 24%. January may have started well with pre-VAT rise spending boosting many non-food retailers, but the second half of January onwards could prove particularly challenging - even for The White Company.
This raises the question whether an upmarket home fashion retailer can sustain its dazzling longer-term momentum. Management has carefully negotiated balancing development of the core home shopping format, including meticulous range extension, with judicious store openings. Retail Week Knowledge Bank believes the stores fulfil a crucial showcasing role for the understated, but aspirational, product range to prospective AB customers in new regions. This flagship approach probably means an eventual domestic network of, say, 50 stores, rather than a more usual 150.
Certainly, it is now crowded in the upper middle market ranks - notably, non-specialists such as M&S and John Lewis harbour expanding ambitions. Nevertheless, The White Company has outshone most of this competition. There is much to play for internationally, too, initially in the Middle East. So, on balance, it receives Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s longer-term endorsement for a bright, white future.