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Findel explores new fashion partnerships

Mike Ashley-backed retail and education group Findel is aiming to expand its clothing and footwear offer and market share by building up more third-party partnerships.

Findel sells a mix of in-house and third-party clothing and footwear brands through its Studio website. Clothing and footwear sales rose by 23.9% year on year in the 26 weeks to 29 September, and now account for 27% of the group’s total retail sales.

Findel chief executive Phil Maudsley told Drapers the business is agressively exploring opportunities to expand its third-party partnerships. It currently stocks brands including Nike, Lipsy, Superdry and Skechers.

Maudsley said: “We’ve got a core offering that’s working well. We’re considering partnerships in both lower- and upper-end areas that we’re not in, before looking to bringing these in-house. We’ve only scratched the surface [in terms of clothing].”

He said the ultimate aim is to drive fashion and footwear sales up to 70% of retail sales, although he did not give a timeframe.

“We know our consumers are spending a significant proportion of their disposable income on clothing, so we [are targeting] that market share,” he explained.

The Manchester-based group operates two divisions: etailer Express Gifts, which trades as Studio, and educational resources supplier Findel Education. Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley owns a 29.9% stake in the business.

As well as menswear, womenswear, footwear and kidswear, Studio covers electricals, homewares, toys, garden and outdoor goods, exercise equipment, nursery items, gifts, gaming goods and beauty products.

Maudsley said that two-thirds of the group’s customer base, which has increased by 25% over the past two years, buy clothing. Findel has recorded 1.7 million active customers to date, with ambitions to reach 2 million by 2020.

It predominantly attracts women aged 25-55, who are often shopping for their families.

Findel’s group like-for-like reported revenue grew by 6.1% to £226m in the 26 weeks to 29 September. Adjusted profit before tax soared by 526.3% to £11.9m, going from a £0.6m loss before tax to £8.1m profit.

The business has made a concerted push in the past 18 months to raise brand awareness of its Studio website. This has included investment in a primetime TV advertising campaign over the past two months.

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