Managing Retail Presence
Office is an omni-channel retailer with a portfolio of 156 stores and concession outlets in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Republic of Ireland, and an e-commerce business which accounts for 28% of sales across a range of digital platforms.
Office has 141 outlets (105 stores and 36 concessions) in the United Kingdom, with eight stores in Germany and seven outlets (five stores and two concessions) in the Republic of Ireland. Included in the above are 17 Offspring outlets.
Trading space decreased by 0.4% during the period.
External market data is used to regularly review the 250 most popular shopping locations to evaluate the best opportunities to open Office stores. New markets, including retail parks and affluent-market towns, are considered as opportunities for growth for both the Office and Offspring brands.
During the reporting period Office opened four stand-alone stores while closing one and relocating one store. The latest international store was opened in Essen in north-west Germany, bringing the footprint in that country to eight. Office’s second retail park location store was opened in July 2016 in Leicester and, based on the success of this store, further retail park opportunities are being evaluated.
E-commerce accounted for 28% of Office’s total retail sales for the period.
Continuous development in web and mobile design and functionality, channel expansion, strong marketing, an aggressive product launch calendar and competitive delivery and service have been among the drivers of success.
The investment in online marketing to drive profitable new traffic contributed to 76.5 million visits to Office’s websites, with the majority of visits to the site coming through smartphones. The new Office mobile app was launched in August 2017 with improved shopping functionality as well as new marketing and customer insight. Office has also benefited from strong international growth through the Office Germany website and from exports from the UK site. Online concessions including Selfridges and Topshop, as well as e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, have also driven traffic.
Management has also focused on driving profitable new traffic through investment in online marketing so as to improve customer retention and therefore increase the purchasing frequency of existing customers while continuing to develop and improve ordering with enhanced delivery options to optimise customer convenience. This includes the addition of express and standard delivery options for international customers, while growing the ‘click & collect’ option from stores and increasing the range of store stock available for online selling. Growth of in-store delivery options and increased visibility of store stock through the ‘in-store look-up’ functionality on the website will further integrate the store and online channels from a customer perspective.
The concession strategy for both the Office and Offspring brands involves working closely with concession partners to review performance and assess the need to open new space, expand or relocate existing space within the host store portfolio.
Concessions are currently held with Selfridges, House of Fraser and Topshop/ Topman.
During the reporting period Office opened two new concessions under the Offspring fascia in Brown Thomas (owned by Selfridges) in Dublin while closing eight concessions with House of Fraser.
The revaluation of business rates (a tax levied by UK local authorities in respect of non-domestic properties) with effect from 1 April 2017 has resulted in an overall increase of approximately 4% in the rental rates payable across the store portfolio. However, certain stores have incurred larger increases, notably in central London where increases have been higher.
Business rates are usually revalued every five years, but the UK Government postponed the revaluation scheduled for 2015 until 2017, delaying the impact of the increased costs to businesses.
Leases are typically concluded on a ten-year basis, with an upward-only rent review on the fifth anniversary. Certain leases may include a break clause in year five. During the period a number of rent reviews were conducted resulting in increased rental costs.
The Office store design has evolved with the aim of improving light and ambience for the customer to shop and to ensure the product is the centre of focus. Fixtures and fittings are therefore carefully considered with the customer and product in mind.
A new store design concept is being rolled out which aims to modernise the store interior display with the focus on increasing density on the walls and improving the customer experience.
Offspring is a different concept to Office. Each store is unique and local architecture is included in the shopfit, for example exposed brick walls, stripped floorboards and ceiling beams, which has the advantage of also being cost-efficient.
Office stores range in size between 80 m² and 150 m² while Offspring stores are typically between 75 m² to 95 m².