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Mobile accounts for half of Shop Direct's online sales

Investment in digital platforms and user experience, and a concerted focus on mobile shopping, has helped Littlewoods and Very.co.uk parent company Shop Direct deliver sales and profit growth for the year to 30 June 2014.

Group CEO Alex Baldock said 12 months ago that Shop Direct's business goal is to become a "world-class digital retailer", and figures released on Tuesday suggest that it is making significant strides in generating revenue and bottom-line gains from following a digital-first approach.

Group sales were up 3% year on year to £1.74 billion, with Very.co.uk delivering sales growth of 23.1% and becoming the organisation's biggest brand, accounting for more than £700 million in sales. Shop Direct said it has "profitably managed" a sales decline of 7.6% within its heritage brands Littlewoods.com and KandCo.com.

The business still operates catalogues and direct mail retailing, but 84% of sales were completed online during the year. Notably, 44% of all online sales were conducted on mobile devices – up from 27% one year before.

Mobile continues to play a growing role in Shop Direct's strategy, with 52% of online sales in the first quarter of the current fiscal period made on either a smartphone or tablet device.

"These are strong results, driven by the outstanding growth of Very.co.uk and the unrelenting boom in mCommerce," explained Baldock.

"Mobile continues to be a game changer for us, with more than half of our online sales now from smartphones and tablets. It's clear that our strategy is working and we've made some big strides toward building a world-class digital retailer."

Some 54% of customers now browse and shop with Shop Direct across more than one device, with a fifth using a three-way combination of desktop, tablet and mobile.

What developments are fuelling Shop Direct's growth? (stats for the year to 30 June 2014)

For the 12-month period, the retailer reported EBITDA growth of 24% to £164.8 million, while profit before tax was up 512% to £40.4 million.

Baldock added: "We're nowhere near the full potential of this business, there's a ton more to do, and we'll continue to invest heavily to get it done."

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