Ecommerce News


Ecommerce Weekly News Roundup 13th - 17th July 2020

Another eventful week in the world of ecommerce and retail. Check out our 3 minute update of everything that has gone on this week.

Government Face Mask Announcement

Earlier this week the UK government announced that face coverings will become mandatory in all shops from the 24th July. In an attempt to combat the spread of the virus, anyone failing to comply to the new rules could face a fine of up to £100.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it would "give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protections for those who work in shops".

Although, there has been some backlash against the decision. Due to the drop in new coronavirus cases in the UK it has been deemed as an unnecessary move by a select few. But these new guidelines have been put in place to also prioritise the safety of sales assistants, cashiers and security guards, who have suffered disproportionately since shops have re-opened.

It is unknown whether these new safety precautions will give shoppers better peace of mind and encourage them to take part in more shopping trips, but it will be interesting to see how this changes over the next coming weeks.

£5m Cash Injection Leads to International Expansion for

British online marketplace OnBuy is set to launch globally this Summer after securing a £5 million cash injection from investors. 

The retailer said it recorded a whopping 1,100% sales increase in the past year, prompting CEO Cas Paton to project a turnover of over £2 billion by 2024.

He also advised that the business is on track to claim 3 - 5% of the £84 billion UK ecommerce market in the next 3 years.

From the businesses rapid growth, the workforce has tripled to more than 50 full-time staff to fulfil customer demand.

Cas Paton said: "The injection of this additional funding not only allows us to substantially grow the operational side of the business, but it gives the OnBuy team backing from phenomenal investors who can bring an array of eCommerce experience and expertise to the table, bolstering an already strong globalisation strategy.

Gymshark Attracts Interest of Private Equity Firms Amidst Minority Stake Speculation

Amid speculation that the gym wear company was exploring the sale of a minority stake, Gymshark has attracted the interest of private equity firms.

According to Sky News, Inflexion Private Equity, General Atlantic, TSG Partners and L Cattertonare are among the investors eyeing up a bid for a stake of up to 20%.

Gymshark has also reportedly projected a £1 billion valuation as a result of the minority stake sale. The sale process for the minority stake is being run by PwC.

CMO and Founder Ben Francis started the company when he was just 19. 8 years later at 27 he now owns around two thirds of Gymshark’s current shares and his net worth is estimated to be around £138 million.

Gymshark was breaking the news not long before lockdown was enforced when its first ever and longest standing pop-up store was launched in London.

Sports Direct Refuse to Pay Shop Rent

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Flannels, Game and Jack Wills has reportedly informed its landlords that it will not pay rent until it is fully able to freely trade as a business.

In a letter to landlords, Frasers said: “We write to confirm that we shall not be making any rental payment in respect of the property that we occupy until we are fully able to freely trade as a business at this location and the level of trade reaches a level which the parties would have envisaged when they drew up the lease.”

Frasers Group has also asked landlords to switch rent payments to monthly rather than quarterly to help the group better manage its cash flow.

The news comes four months after Frasers Group asked for 50% waivers on its rents in an attempt to reduce costs during the pandemic.

Boots UK to Cut Around 4000 Jobs in the UK

Pharmacy chain Boots has taken action to mitigate the ‘significant impact’ of COVID-19 by cutting around 4,000 jobs in their stores across the UK.

The move will affect around 7% of the health and beauty company’s total workforce. This will particularly affect the staff in it’s Nottingham support office, as well as beauty and customer advisor roles in stores.

The decision was made after the business saw a dramatic fall in shopper numbers and the business was reallocating budget to cope during the global crisis.

Boots said online sales had soared 78% during lockdown, and as a result more investment will be put into their online sales channels to improve their digital services, including doubling capacity for home delivery and creating more small local fulfilment centres.

Halfords Could Close up to 60 Stores Due to Covid19

Halfords reportedly has plans to close up to 60 stores and garages by April, despite the online rising sales of the cycle and car parts retailer.

Prior to COVID-19, Halfords had plans to close around 6 sites per year. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated these plans, although the company is planning to move staff to other shops amidst the closures.

A 200% rise in online shopping was reported throughout lockdown. A 57% surge in cycling sales was put down to consumers avoiding public transport, although Halfords did see a sharp drop in motoring sales.

Primark Has Rejected the Government's £30 Million Windfall

Retail giant Primark has rejected the UK government's scheme for taking back furloughed staff into full time employment. 

The business turned down a potential windfall of about £30 million, saying it “shouldn’t be necessary” to take advantage of the government’s plan to get more UK workers back into full time employment.

Under this new scheme introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, companies could be paid a job retention bonus of £1000 for each worker brought back from furlough.

Primark explains it wouldn’t claim any of the bonus as many employees have already been placed back into full time employment from the furlough scheme when its stores reopened.

Retail Footfalls have plummeted 62% in June 2020

Brits continue to be cautious when it comes to non-essential shopping as many retail outlets begin to reopen on the high street.

Footfall levels plummeted by over 62% year on year in June, which is a 19% improvement on May when stores were closed due to the COVID lockdown.

Retail parks saw the biggest improvement during June, whilst shopping centres saw the biggest drop, which is likely due to challenges of social distancing in indoor shopping centres.

ShopperTrak retail consultant EMEA Andy Sumpter said: “It’s too early to say if the re-opening of pubs and restaurants will help significantly boost retail footfall, but the UK was the last amongst its European peers to reopen doors and is also seeing the slowest rate of recovery.”

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