Monday 13 August 2012

Just a virtual Hut?

Following the success of Amazon, it is unlikely that many will underestimate the potential of The Hut, especially given the direct involvement of Terry Leahy and now Stuart Rose
For those who may have been a little distracted by the 7 years preparation for the Olympics, The Hut sells fast moving consumer goods that are non-perishable with high levels of repeat purchase, and premium luxury products with higher average unit sales and strong consumer loyalty.

Investment and backing
The business has expanded greatly since their launch in 2004, and with the help of c£75m (raised over three years from both individual investors such as Terry Leahy and financial institutions).

Key websites
This investment capital has funded the organic launch of websites across a number of sectors including clothing, footwear, bags and accessories plus a number of acquisitions including gifts, health & beauty HB1, HB2, HB3  and sports nutrition, a total of 16 web-sites.
The Hut Group’s huge customer base is split between Consumer, Prestige and Lifestyle with fashion falling under both Consumer and Prestige

Making The Hut real for suppliers 
The issue for suppliers is how to justify treating the Hut as a major customer, with a share of attention and NAM-talent far in excess of its actual size, when many suppliers  allocate resource and talent based on historical size of business.
These same suppliers normally have no problem allocating their best brand managers to embryo products, leaving their lesser talent to maintenance marketing of established brands.

Treating retailers and brands ‘equally’
This all goes back to the need to treat customers as equivalent business units to brands of the same size, never forgetting that in the end brand equity is sacrosanct.
However, if a customer generates 10% of sales and profit, and a brand represents 10% of sales and profit, then surely they require equivalent resourcing, at least… The same holds for potential shares of the business
Finally, if anyone at board level lacking a sales background needs convincing, it might be worth pointing out that a major customer represents a gateway to the consumer, and is in a position thereby to concentrate or dilute the brand message, depending on how well it appears to fits with the store offering…

The Hut is already too real to either ignore or short-change in terms of resourcing…  

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