Big interview: Missguided managing director Nitin Passi

Fashion e-tailer Missguided recently announced turnover of £55 million for the 12 months to March 2013, but through international expansion, localisation and greater customer personalisation the business is aiming for £100 million turnover in the current financial year.

The UK online fashion retailer, which has a core customer base of women aged 16 to 35 and can look to former Pussycat Doll and X-Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger as a brand ambassador, is launching websites in Germany and Sweden in 2014 following the recent unveiling of a French language portal, and Australian and US sites last year.

Now attracting more than eight million website visits a month, which included a record 265,000 orders made in December 2013, the Missguided business sees significant opportunity to grow into a prominent global player as it moves into its sixth year of operation.

Managing director and company founder Nitin Passi told Essential Retail that the business is happy with its product range and offering as it embarks on what it hopes will be an enlightening international journey.

"Expanding internationally is a big step for any business but we're confident that it's the right direction for us," he explained.

"We currently ship to 160 countries and have a strong international customer base so we know the demand is there.

"I think one of the main challenges with this type and scale of expansion is to retain the essence of the brand over multiple platforms. Missguided is a young, fresh and aspirational brand and we pride ourselves in really knowing our customer, [so] as we grow into new markets, it is important not to lose this key part of what makes us unique and to remain consistent across all locations."

Passi is focused on brand building, and in a crowded marketplace that also includes the likes of Asos and the recently-listed it will be crucial for the business to maintain a point of differentiation.

The managing director cites the collaboration with Scherzinger, which saw the singer develop her own Nicole X misguided range for the business, as one example of the company keeping its relevance to a young target market – and this type of individualism is what he hopes will keep drawing customers in.

Acknowledging that pure-play eCommerce companies "need to work harder" than those with a physical presence in order to build a brand and retain shopper loyalty, Passi is confident about building on the 2.3 million customers who have already registered their details with Missguided in its five years since inception.

"There is a lot of oversaturation in the market, but this isn't something we are generally concerned about and is not isolated to the eCommerce world," he argued.

"Rather than concentrating on what our competitors are doing, we focus on our business and continually evaluate our position to make sure we stay relevant for our consumers."

The retail entrepreneur says that an international e-tailer must localise and personalise its offering if it wants to maximise sales conversion and customer retention – key themes that align with many of the discussions had at an international retailing event hosted by the British Retail Consortium earlier this month.

It is this targeted approach that Missguided seeks to adopt as it enters new territories over the coming year, with the different payment types, delivery options and returns policies apparently "just a handful of the factors" that Passi says must be considered before launching an international site.

"As a UK brand growing internationally it is important we give all of our customers a localised shopping experience and this is something we are constantly working on," he noted.

To keep pace with current developments at the company, Missguided recently kick-started a comprehensive recruitment strategy that includes a search for data and web analysts to help fuel the technology behind the site. The business, which is based in Manchester in the north-west of the UK, currently employs over 500 people but aims to have added another 200 to the workforce by next March.

A key focus area for Passi and the team is on offering a more convenient delivery and returns proposition "to mirror the convenience of click and collect", which is provided by a number of multichannel retail businesses and is set to grow in importance over the coming years.

Unlike My-Wardrobe, an online fashion company which opens its first store this month, there are no plans set in stone for Missguided to enter the physical retailing space – in the near future, at least.

"As a business operating in our space and within our target market, we want to maintain agility and the ability to react to our customers' demands," explained the founder. "As a result, if at a given time it makes sense for us to open physical stores then this is something we may consider."

For now, however, it is France, Germany, Sweden and beyond that represents new ground for this growing online fashion business.