For the majority of retailers, not having a watertight online operation is akin to sleepwalking towards a cliff edge. But even internet operators are realising they need a bricks and mortar operation – and yummy mummy favourite Boden is no exception.
The clothing company, founded in 1991 by old Etonian Johnnie Boden, is planning to open more shops in the UK and its first one in the US, deputy chairman Julian Granville told the FT, although he didn’t say how many. It only has one shop at the moment, in Hanger Green in deepest, darkest west London.
Boden is famous for its cheery catalogues flogging flowery prints to Sloaney mums and their little darlings (although it’s been getting moodier and more fashionable of late). But even six years ago 70% of orders were made online. So why does it need a physical presence?
It’ll ‘give customer an option to come to our brand, and for the customers who buy only limited parts of the range, the opportunity to buy more of it,’ Granville said.
But the same could be said at pretty much any point over Boden’s 24-year history. More likely, this will give the retailer a start in increasingly in-demand world of ‘click-and-collect’, with a network of shops where customers can pick up or return online orders.
It won’t be able to serve all its customers by any means. Half of revenues are made abroad, for example, with sales in France rising 34% in 2014, compared to a less than 1% rise to £280.7m overall.
But the move into bricks and mortar by Boden, whose pre-tax profits rose 31% to £32m in 2014, is yet more evidence the worlds of off and online are merging. Eventually, even the hard discounters may not be able to hold out.