The KPMG International Growth Retailer of the Year has made a success of its ambitious international expansion strategy in just three years.
Few retail businesses can describe themselves as truly international, but The Hut Group’s strategy of developing a technology platform that can support rapid centralised roll-out alongside acquisitions has achieved exactly that.
The scale of the online health and beauty group’s ambition – to drive international revenues by investing time and resources in a fully in-house model, creating a scalable international technology platform – won the judges’ admiration.
“This is a platform where The Hut can bolt on to the front end with minimal extra effort and cost. It is well invested, with a good and increasingly strong management team”
That The Hut achieved that in just three years also won their praise.
One of the retailers on the judging panel described The Hut as “properly ambitious and properly international”.
“This is a platform where The Hut can bolt on to the front end with minimal extra effort and cost. It is well invested, with a good and increasingly strong management team,” said one of the judges.
Despite being a relatively new international player (it had just seven international websites in 2013) international revenue accounted for more than 50% of the total for the first time in the last reported full year.
The centralised international roll-out programme has provided operating leverage, and international retail visits rose 36% last year to 115 million.
Technology is at the core of its success and the retailer continued to invest in its platform last year. A team of more than 500 technology and data staff are dedicated to its continued development as an agile and responsive platform.
This investment has supported the group’s ambition to rapidly roll out international sites – 60 were launched during 2016, compared with 22 in 2015.
The flexibility of the platform and the use of shared elements such as the checkout, customer relationship management system and payment methods, means sites can be launched within two days.
The Hut Group’s US acquisition strategy has also been supported by the platform, which can also integrate new businesses.
It added Skinstore, a cosmetics site, and Idealshape, a weight management brand for women, in June and September 2016 respectively.
The Hut Group’s total portfolio now comprises more than 100 websites over 25 health and beauty, wellness, fashion and lifestyle brands, including Myprotein, the world’s leading online sports nutrition brand, orders from which are shipped from the UK and US to more than 78 international destinations.
“It has been very neat tapping into the protein market and becoming the world’s biggest player with a deep-rooted knowledge of that category”
The Hut’s Lookfantastic is Europe’s top premium beauty retailer and has delivered impressive growth. Other brands in its stable include fashion specialist Coggles, male grooming website Mankind and entertainment retailer Zavvi.com
One of the judges said: “International has become a massive proportion of The Hut’s business in no time at all. It is still growing and I think it has a lot more scale.
“It has been very neat tapping into the protein market and becoming the world’s biggest player with a deep-rooted knowledge of that category.”
With strong competition in this category, the judges praised The Hut’s submission for demonstrating strong results and a compelling proposition with real long-term growth potential.
KPMG in the UK is a leading provider of professional services, including audit, tax and advisory offerings – delivering innovative approaches to its clients’ issues.
The retail sector is in a period of significant change with existing business models and customer demands evolving. Technology is functioning as a catalyst and blurring the lines, creating markets that are open for business anytime, anywhere – and any way the customer prefers to shop.
Competition for market share remains fierce. At KPMG, industry specialists are working closely with the retail sector to help address the challenges and ensure opportunities are embraced. This includes helping retailers in transforming their operating model, ensuring tight control on working capital, supporting a workforce with the right balance of skills and streamlining the supply chain.
Furthermore it provides expert advice on pricing and discount strategies, data-driven personalisation and the protection of that data.
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