House Of Fraser executives have revealed their five-year vision for the company, including plans to drop up to 40 fashion brands and relaunch its website as part of a strategic campaign aimed at putting the businesses at the forefront of a changing retail environment.
Executives from the company admitted that a lack of investment over the past two decades had left the retailer “on life support”, but insisted the plans would realign it with its core customers and repair its brand portfolio.
Executive chairman Frank Slevin said the department store chain was in the middle of a “transformational period” and the overhaul would help boost sales and allow House of Fraser to stay ahead of the changes the retail industry as a whole is facing.
According to The Times [Paywall], the retailer will axe up to 40 of the 677 third-party brands it sells and boost labels such as Barbour, North Face and All Saints, along with house labels Linea, Biba and Label Lab.
There will also be a renewed focus on womenswear and homeware, redefining the company as a premium department store, with a new core customer called “Jo”, defined as a mother of two, who prioritises family, community and work, earning two to three times the national average.
“She is a modern woman, who is getting back me-time, and is looking for inspiration,” said David Walmsley, chief customer officer.
There will also be a push to wean shoppers off discounts by holding less promotions to reduce stock levels and avoid price hikes to cope with the continuing rise in costs due to a post Brexit devalued sterling.
Following successful trials in Australia, a new mobile-friendly website will also be launched for use on mobiles and tablets, allowing customers to shop online for home deliveries or click-and-collect.
The five-year plan also includes the launch of restaurants, champagne bars and yoga studios to encourage its core audience “Jo” to spend more time in stores.
There will also be the introduction of year-round gift departments in 20 stores, along with the launch of athleisure in 40 stores.
Chief financial officer Colin Elliot said Sanpower, the Chinese company that owns House of Fraser, had invested £90 million into the business since its acquisition in 2014 and plans to invest a further £45 million this year, with the cash injection already helping 12 stores with renovations and upgrades to the IT systems.