Sosandar chairman provides sunny outlook for online fashion pureplay

Premium womenswear online pureplay retailer Sosandar is growing customers and driving sales, according to the company’s non-executive chair, Bill Murray.

Speaking at the business’s annual general meeting (AGM) today (23 September), Murray will say “increased investment we've made into marketing and product is producing very good results”.

The retailer raised £7 million through a placing of new shares earlier this year, and that has resulted in the strengthening of its design capability, the widening of its product range, and the trialling of additional marketing channels.

“As expected, we've seen these activities result in increased customer acquisition alongside continued growth from our ever-expanding base of loyal existing customers,” Murray will tell the AGM audience.

Autumn is deemed an important season for Sosandar – a company founded in 2015 by magazine editor Alison Hall and publisher Julie Lavington – and early results are positive, according to Murray.

Midway through September revenue has reportedly exceeded what the business achieved in the same month last year. This growth in sales has coincided with the company’s first foray into TV advertising, with a controlled test in the north-west with ITV.

“Whilst this activity is it still in its infancy, early results are encouraging, which has led to additional testing being undertaken in other TV regions,” Murray will explain.

“We have also started to use out-of-home digital media for the first time, with Sosandar advertising appearing across digital panels alongside station escalators at key London underground stations including Euston and King’s Cross St Pancras.”

He will add: “We expect the contribution to brand recognition and awareness that this creates, together with our TV advertising, to be significant and, over time, we are confident it will further support our work in new customer acquisition and retention.”

Celebrity fans and influencers, including TV presenters Amanda Holden and Susanna Reid, have helped raise the company’s profile by sharing and talking about products online.

Sosandar has also recently expanded its supplier base, which Murray will say has led to third-party interest in selling its products. As a result, Sosandar items can now be found on independent brand website, Silk Fred – and other opportunities are being explored.

“We continue to measure and assess the impact of all our marketing channels closely, particularly how the expansion into new channels amplifies results, and we are quickly learning a huge amount about what works best for Sosandar and how to accelerate return on investment,” Murray will say.

Sosandar’s 2018-19 sales were up by £3.09 million to reach £4.44 million, with average order value at £103.19. The business reported an EBITDA loss.

Speaking about Sosandar in the summer, Emily Salter, retail analyst at market intelligence group GlobalData, said: “Its trend-led products and a clear target demographic enable it to steal customers from struggling retailers such as Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, and House of Fraser, where ranges can lack inspiration and brand appeal.

“Unlike these players, Sosandar is not burdened with the high costs of a store estate, and boasts a narrower strong fashion offer allowing it to be far more targeted.”

She added: “Driving profitability is a must in 2019-20, with the retailer needing to further exploit its existing customer base.”