Tablets, hair straighteners and UGG boots are among the top selling items that have helped online retailer Very.co.uk become a £1.4bn revenue brand over the last decade. Very, which was launched on 5 July 2009 by digital retailer Shop Direct, celebrates its 10th birthday this week.
Online retailing was growing fast in 2009: two thirds of UK households had internet access and online transactions accounted for 7% of total retail sales*. Shop Direct spotted a gap in the market for a multi-category retailer designed to appeal to the internet generation. Very launched with a distinctive pink marque, brand ambassadors Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby, and a new website and catalogue.
A lot has changed in a decade. Very is now 100% digital, receives over 1m website visits every day and has increased the quality and number of brands available to 1,800. In Shop Direct’s most recent annual results, for the year ended 30 June 2018, Very’s revenue increased 10% to £1.4bn and the brand had 2.8m active customers.
Fashion has played a vital role in Very’s success. It sells more than 500 fashion brands and launched own brand V by Very in 2016, which accounts for more than a third of Very’s total fashion sales today. Among the top selling fashion items of the last decade are UGG boots, Converse trainers and V by Very leggings, while sportswear sales have doubled in the last four years. The electrical division has doubled the number of brands available since 2009, with top selling products including Apple’s iPad Mini and the Nintendo Switch console. The last four years have also seen toy sales double, thanks to a mix of long term favourites like Lego and new brands such as L.O.L! Surprise. Bedroom furniture and towels have been top items in the home division, which has seen over a million individual Silentnight products sold to date.
Brand ambassadors and celebrity collaborations have played a big part in Very’s success. TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton were the first ambassadors in 2009, followed by singer and TV presenter Rochelle Humes in 2014 and actress Michelle Keegan, who came aboard in September 2018. Celebrity collaborations over the last 10 years include presenter and activist Jameela Jamil, singer Kimberley Walsh and, most recently, model and TV personality Kate Wright, who collaborated with Very on a summer fashion edit in June 2019.
Very’s early adoption of a ‘mobile-first’ approach, meaning development focused on the mobile platform above others, led to three quarters of its total online sales being secured via mobile devices in 2018. The brand launched its first app in 2015 and reached 1m app downloads in 2017. The Very iOS and Android apps both have five-star user ratings. The Very Assistant chatbot was launched in 2016 and artificial intelligence was added in 2018, allowing customers to ask account related questions in their own words. It now answers more than 10,000 queries every month.
Henry Birch, group CEO at Shop Direct, said:
“Very’s growth since its launch in 2009 has been nothing short of outstanding. Our hugely committed colleagues have focused on mobile development, great brands and our customers. This has helped Very become a £1bn-plus revenue brand and one of the biggest online-only retailers in the UK.
“But the story for Very is only just beginning. By listening to what our customers want, offering them outstanding service and ways to pay, and investing in our technology and systems to stay ahead of trends, we believe we’ll take Very to the next level.”
Shop Direct Ashley Muldoon 07523 044 507
Dave Lafferty 07552 283 266
NOTES TO EDITORS
Selected top products of the last 10 years
|Category||Top products by sales value|
|Electrical||Apple iPad Mini
Apple iPhone X
Nintendo Switch console
|Seasonal||ghd IV professional styler
Babyliss Curl Secret styler
Lay-Z-Spa hot tub
Men’s Hugo Boss t-shirts
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Ox trainers
|Home||Peru collection bedroom furniture
Prague collection bedroom furniture
Selection of Very’s brand ambassadors and celebrity collaborations
- Holly Willoughby July 2009 – June 2013
- Fearne Cotton July 2009 – June 2015
- Steve Jones Sept 2010 – Sept 2011
- Diana Vickers Aug 2011 – June 2012
- Jameela Jamil June 2012 – May 2013
- Kimberley Walsh Dec 2013 – April 2014
- Rochelle Humes June 2014 – Nov 2016
- Michelle Keegan Sept 2018 – present
- Kate Wright June 2019
*According to Statista.
About Shop Direct
As the UK’s largest integrated pureplay digital retailer and financial services provider, Shop Direct has annual sales of £1.96 billion.
Later this year, we will rebrand to The Very Group as part of plans to bring our name and identity in line with our largest and fastest growing retail brand Very.co.uk.
We exist to make good things easily accessible to more people. With our multi-category range of famous brands, market-leading technology and data capabilities and unique financial services products offering flexible ways to pay, we’re well placed to deliver on that promise.
We sell more than 1,800 famous brands, including big name labels and our own exclusive brands. We have four million customers and deliver 49 million products every year. Our free click-and-collect service, CollectPlus, delivers to 7,000 stores across the country, increasing ease and convenience for customers.
For more information on Shop Direct, visit www.shopdirect.com or follow us on Twitter at @ShopDirect.