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The Rise Of BooHoo – From Small UK Brand To International Fashion Icon

In 2020, BooHoo boasted a record number of sales and revenue, despite the effects of a global pandemic.

Following on from this, 2021 so far has seen the fashion giant acquire UK high street household names; Burton, Dorothy Perkins, and Wallis for £25million. Just a few weeks before, it paid £55million in cash for the former department store, Debenhams Retails Limited.

Overall, BooHoo has worked hard to carve out a name for itself as a top player in the online fashion world.

How did BooHoo go from being a relatively small UK brand to a global brand name in fashion?

A BooHoo Timeline

2006 – BooHoo is born as joint CEOs Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane set up the business based in Manchester, England.

2006 – 2012 – BooHoo’s business model operates as an online-only retailer to help keep overhead costs low and shipping fast through keeping the majority of operations UK-based.

2013 – The retailer launched BooHoo Man: the menswear range. Intended to reach a new customer base of men aged 16 – 24, it opened up a whole new demographic of customers.

2014 – BooHoo is floated on the stock market with a valuation of £560million.

2014 – 2016 – BooHoo works hard to build its social media presence and attract customers. The brand starts working with celebrities and influencers to promote its pieces.

2016 – BooHoo acquires PrettyLittleThing.

2017 – The business is estimated to be worth around £2billion, seeing its stock value increasing by £1.4billion in only three years.

2018 – BooHoo buys Nasty Gal for £16.2 million.

2019 – 2020 – BooHoo acquires more companies. It pays £18.2million in cash for the online businesses of Karen Millen and Coast in an attempt to target an older demographic. It also buys MissPap for an undisclosed price. In June 2020, BooHoo buys Oasis and Warehouse for £5.25million. Last on the list, BooHoo buys the remainder of PLT shares owning the company outright for a cost of £329million.

April 2020 – BooHoo announced a record revenue during the pandemic with £1.23billion in revenue, up 44 percent compared to 2019. Pre-tax profit also increased to £92.2million.

January 2021 – BooHoo acquired the Debenhams brand name and website for £55million.

February 2021 – The business buys Arcadia group’s remaining brands in the administration; Burton, Dorothy Perkins, and Wallis for £25 million.

April 2021 – BooHoo buys a new office in Soho for £72million, housing around 600 employees and to accommodate the growth over the last few years. Boohoo also signed up for another long-term lease for the warehouse that previously held Arcadia in Daventry. The sites combined will give the group a net sales capacity in excess of £4billion.

Over the next few years, BooHoo is expected to invest over £50million into the business and offering between 500 and 1000 new jobs.

Leveraging The Power Of Social Media

The key to BooHoo’s success is in the way it utilises the power of social media to reach its customers and as part of its marketing strategy.

As of April 2021, the fashion giant has 7.4million Instagram followers and BooHoo Man has 1.7million. With a customer base that loves to buy from an app on their phone, these strong numbers are good news to BooHoo and its sales revenue.

With a target market intended to be those 16-30 years old, it uses the power of celebrities and social media influencers to both endorse their range and celebrity collaborations. It knows that it’s demographic loves to buy what’s trending and has tapped into this.

BooHoo has also put some serious money into its marketing campaign, with a spend of over £116million in one year. To put that into some context – it’s an investment of almost 10% of its total sales.

Growing Through Buying Struggling Retailers

Boohoo has reinvested a considerable amount of its sales revenue back into the business by acquiring other high street brands that are struggling.

Over only the last five years BooHoo has acquired:

  • PrettyLittleThing
  • Nasty Gal
  • Karen Millen
  • Coast
  • MissPap
  • Oasis
  • Debenhams
  • Burton
  • Dorothy Perkins
  • Wallis

This exponential growth in such a short time shows that BooHoo has the cash to spend on growth. It demonstrates that where other companies are struggling, BooHoo instead is looking for ways to expand.

If you can afford to buy up your competitors, why not do that?

Embracing Inclusivity In Its Clothing

BooHoo has increased sales through embracing plus-size models and selling its ranges in sizes up to 26.

It has stated that it wants to take a “fashion for all” approach to its clothing.

For example, it said that it wants a size 10 woman to be able to wear exactly the same as a size 20 woman. To prove this, it’s been using models of different sizes to show what their clothes look like on all body types.

BooHoo believes that whatever your body shape, you should be able to wear the dress you love.

This inclusive approach is refreshing and welcomed in the fashion industry, helping to empower customers to feel that that they can wear whatever they want.

Using An Online-Only Business Model

BooHoo’s online-only approach has had a huge impact on its success.

Many traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses have not been able to survive the change in shopping habits, with the effects of the pandemic pushing them to breaking point.

As BooHoo has always operated in an online-only way, they were best placed to continue to work efficiently throughout the pandemic and to keep serving its customers in the way it knows how.

This online-only business model has meant that overheads can be kept low while sales revenue is maximised.

BooHoo’s Success

Over the last decade, BooHoo has seen continued growth that has helped it outlive a number of its competitors.

The last 5 years especially have been great for BooHoo, seeing it buying up many of its competitors.

Both its online-only business model and its clever use of social media have helped to focus its efforts on attracting new customers – especially encouraging them to download the app.

The record sales figures throughout the duration of the pandemic has shown BooHoo for the fashion giant that it is, and that there don’t appear to be any signs of things slowing down soon.

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