To stand still is to go backwards. This well-known mantra has been quoted a thousand times, but is more relevant today than it ever has been.
Think of Mike Ashley what you will, but the one thing he cannot be accused of is standing still. This has been highlighted once again this week with the announcement that Sports Direct has dismissed almost the entire House of Fraser management team.
It is an unsurprising cull, but was made in typical Ashley style, via a one-sentence Stock Exchange announcement. It will also increase the nervousness of many suppliers who are still coping with the changes since the buyout of HoF from administration by Sports Direct in August. They will seek reassurance from Ashley and his team on the future direction of the business.
It will be interesting to see who Ashley hires as his top team as he continues to work towards his ambition of making HoF the “Harrods of the high street”.
One business whose future looks bright is Boohoo Group. Posting yet another set of results with revenue growth of 50% is really quite something in the current climate. As Boohoo’s growth moves steadily in the right direction, sister brand PrettyLittleThing is catching up at a phenomenal rate, as revenue soars by 132%.
PrettyLittleThing is an example of a brand that is constantly evolving with its customer. Founder Umar Kamani (son of Boohoo co-founder Mahmud Kamani) frequently reminisces on Instagram posts that highlight the brand’s journey from its first-ever billboard in 2012 – when it was just an accessories brand – to the release of its short-lived in-house magazine in 2013.
As he says himself, “We are building a lifestyle, not a shop,” and that is evident in everything the brand does, as it depicts an aspirational yet inclusive lifestyle for customers to engage with.
Each brand within the Boohoo Group has its own handwriting with a clear customer focus. Its success has been outstanding and as founders Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane take up their new roles as group executive chairman and executive director respectively, bringing in Primark’s John Lyttle as CEO, they are proof of another well-known saying: the only constant is change.