Lifestyle chain White Stuff is ploughing investment into its international multichannel business this year on the back of strong UK sales in 2013.
Chief executive Jeremy Seigal told Drapers the retailer hoped to begin trialling country-specific websites later this year, with prices in the relevant currencies, localised delivery options and “elements of local language” where applicable.
He would not say which countries White Stuff will target, but suggested the Republic of Ireland would be on the list and noted the product seemed to resonate with consumers in northern Europe.
White Stuff has one standalone store outside of the UK, in Copenhagen, and three concessions in German store group Karstadt, in Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. It also has more than 100 wholesale accounts in France.
Seigal, who joined from Superdrug in February 2013, said international growth would come from ecommerce.
“Until this year we haven’t invested significantly in the international online journey, but we will over this coming year,” he added, although he declined to specify a figure.
“Our brand is multichannel in our home market, so there’s no reason [that strategy] shouldn’t be successful in international markets.”
Total sales were up 16.2% in the year to May 3. Like-for-likes rose 8.5%, while EBITDA climbed 30.7% to £16.6m. Gross margin improved by 2.1 percentage points, driven by strong full-price trading.
International sales increased 70.5% over the year. White Stuff would not provide exact figures, however, saying only that this side of the business was “still at a very early stage of development”.
White Stuff is still pushing multichannel in the UK. It said it expected its online business, which grew 47.9% during the year and now represents 20.8% of total sales, up from 16.4% last year, to continue its strong upwards trajectory.
In spring this year the retailer also combined its online and in-store customer databases, enabling it to ramp up its data collection and better track how people shop.
Martin Newman, chief executive of ecommerce consultancy Practicology, will join White Stuff as a non-executive director from September 1.
However, Seigal stressed the bricks-and-mortar side of the business was still “very important”.
White Stuff opened five UK stores last year – in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, Witney in Oxfordshire, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, Kendal in Cumbria and Southampton – and 15 concessions, while it closed one store and one concession. It now has 89 UK stores and 43 concessions in John Lewis, House of Fraser and various independents.
It will open a store in Manchester on August 8 and one in Bromley, Kent, in September.