Summit News

Pixmania says online retail resilient

LONDON (Reuters) - A consumer downturn that is battering traditional store groups has so far had little impact on Internet sales, the managing director of Pixmania, Europe’s biggest online consumer electricals retailer, said on Wednesday.

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“We’re not really seeing it, and I think it would be difficult to see because the growth rates are so strong,” Ulric Jerome told the Reuters Consumer Goods and Retail Summit.

Jerome pointed to a recent survey, from IMRG-CapGemini, which showed that online spending in the UK leapt 54 percent to 46.6 billion pounds ($90.8 billion) last year.

Data from IMRG released on Wednesday showed UK shoppers spent 4.5 billion pounds online in May with growth in clothing, footwear and accessories -- product areas that showed slowing sales on the high street.

Jerome said Internet retailers were not immune to a slowdown in consumer spending, but they could pick up business from increasingly price-conscious customers.

“By having lower costs than traditional retail, we are able to pass that saving onto the customers,” he said.

Jerome also said majority owner DSG international DSGI.L would launch revamped websites, using Pixmania's technology and expertise, in three or four months time that would be faster and easier to use.

The new sites were also focusing on following Pixmania’s lead, encouraging consumers to buy more than one item thanks to a focus on bundling where retailers try to sell accessories related to a main product sale.

Currently, shoppers on DSGi sites generally buy one item whereas on Pixmania sites they buy three.

DSGi, Europe’s biggest electricals goods retailer, issued two profit warnings in three months earlier this year, and new Chief Executive John Browett put a revitalized Internet offering at the heart of his recovery plan in May.

Jerome said the new websites for DSG’s Dixons, Currys, and PC World brands, would have separate identities, with Dixons a pure Internet offering, Currys linked to the group’s stores of the same name and PC World focusing on computing.

These identities would also be distinct from Pixmania, which is more focused on hi-tech gadgets, he said.

“These are changes with real turnover potential,” Jerome said, adding the revamped websites would be “as good as Pixmania, with all the particulars of the brands.”

Pixmania has around 6 million users in 26 countries across Europe and competes with U.S. online retailer AMZN.O. From its roots in consumer electricals, it has branched into categories such as music and fashions through its PixPlace marketplace website, as well as e-commerce services.