Britain's second biggest online retailer is putting its faith in mobile commerce

Shop Direct, the firm behind online retailers like very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com, just dropped its full year results, and they seem pretty excited about their future in mobile commerce.

The company has just reported a third consecutive year of record profits. Profits spiked by 78% to £71.7 million ($US110 million), despite sales across the board only growing by 3% to £1.8 billion ($US2.8 billion).

Shop Direct — which describes itself as the “UK’s second largest pureplay online retailer — has its roots in the old-fashioned, mail order catalogues that were once hugely popular, but Tuesday’s results statement shows that it is very much putting its faith in selling goods on mobile devices.

By the looks of the figures, the focus on mobile commerce is paying dividends, especially on very.co.uk, Shop Direct’s flagship brand. Sales on mobile devices grew by 51% over the year, and mean that 59% of very’s sales now come from mobile.

“Very.co.uk and mobile have been the outstanding performers for us. We’re working hard to keep our lead in m-commerce, and Very is now the UK’s fastest growing department store. This is now a disciplined business too, in the way we sell, spend and lend, which makes for a more profitable and resilient Shop Direct.” said Shop Direct’s chief executive Alex Baldock.

As well as growing it’s mobile commerce operations, Shop Direct is looking to make itself as efficient as possible. In the past year it has focused entirely on digital platforms, scrapping the Littlewoods catalogue, ending an 80-year-old tradition for selling goods by mail order.

“We passed some important milestones last year. We called time on the catalogue, and we are now a pureplay retailer dedicated to digital. We’ve transformed quickly to this more focused business — only three years ago, nearly three-quarters of our sales were from catalogue customers.” said Baldock.

The firm has seen a sharp drop off in catalogue sales recently — only three years ago 72% of sales came from the once famous Littlewoods catalogue. Now that the Littlewood’s catalogue — Shop Direct’s last remaining catalogue — has gone, Shop Direct is an entirely online business.

Along with abolishing the catalogues, Shop Direct has shut down Isme, K&Co and the once hugely successful Woolworths, as part of it’s efforts to make the company more efficient and profitable.

Results were also helped by the launch of VeryExclusive.co.uk in February. The site stocks luxury brands like Marc Jacobs and Vivienne Westwood, and says it aims to ‘democratise luxury fashion’.

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