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Shop Direct eyes mature woman as route to profit

Shop Direct Group is chasing a greater share of the over-50s female market dominated by rival N Brown as part of plans to return to profit this year.

Group chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said the home-shopping group, which comprises brands including Very and Littlewoods, would target the mature shopper, because it represents the fastest-growing demographic using the internet and there is limited competition for the market.

Shop Direct’s more mature websites, which include Kays, Marshall Ward and Empire, will be rebranded for spring 11. The name of the umbrella site has yet to be decided. The company will also invest in developing its own brands, like Savoir.

“[The over-50s customer] is circa 30% of our business at the moment,” said Newton-Jones. He added that above-the-line advertising spend would double to about £40m to promote the websites. The strategy places Shop Direct head-to-head with rival N Brown, which targets mature shoppers with websites including Marisoto and Fifty Plus.

Shop Direct said it would return to profit this year after narrowing losses from £114m to £21m for the year to April 30.

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