Online retailer Shop Direct has recorded a surge in underlying full-year pre-tax profits and sales, thanks to its investments in the technology side of the business.
In the 53 weeks to June 30, Shop Direct‘s underlying pre-tax profits jumped 43.6 per cent to £150.4 million, while sales increased for the fourth year in a row by 4.3 per cent to £1.86 billion.
The etailer‘s full-year performance was also driven by a sales jump of 15.9 per cent to £1.12 billion on its lifestyle site Very.
Meanwhile, 62 per cent of purchases across Shop Direct‘s websites were made via mobile devices, a marked increase from 56 per cent the previous year.
Some of the company‘s technology investments include the new MyVery app as well as a consolidation of its websites which effectively migrated customers of Isme, Woolworths and K and Co to Very and Littlewoods.
Shop Direct has also improved its data, personalisation and pricing technology, and has allocated funds to create new technologies, especially in regards to artificial intelligence.
With Shop Direct ending its catalogue production in early 2015, the report published today reflects its first full financial year as a pure-play etailer.
Chief executive Alex Baldock said: “Removing the shackles of the catalogue has been liberating, and has allowed us to invest in the areas that matter most to our customers – making their shopping experience easier and more personalised, particularly on mobile.”
He added: “This was the year our investments in technology really started to pay off… We‘ve made big strides in m-commerce, big data and personalisation.
“But there‘s a lot more to play for in these areas. In particular, we believe that artificial intelligence can change the game for us in data and personalisation. We‘re deploying it already and are serious about going much further.”
Shop Direct added 150 brands to its roster in the last financial year, bringing its total range to 1300 brands across fashion, footwear, home, electrical and beauty.
Just yesterday, the etailer launched its first collection of own-label men‘s, women‘s and children‘s fashion brand V by Very.