Traditional UK retailers need to do more says GlobalData

GlobalData logoTraditional stationery retailers will need to do more to counter the success of emerging Aussie retailers, says GlobalData.

In a recent report by Fiona Paton, associate analyst at GlobalData, she asks ‘will emerging Aussie stationery players threaten UK old timers?’

“The rise of technology is threatening the need for pens and paper leading to falling stationery sales; it therefore might seem like an odd time for new entrants into the UK stationery market.
However, Australian stationery retailers have arrived and are successfully targeting consumers with design-led stationery. UK stationers with less ‘flair’, such as WHSmith and Ryman, will continue to benefit from needs-based purchasing but must invest in stores and diversify their target market if they want to remain successful in the long term.

“With targeted propositions Aussie stationers gain traction in the UK Aussie stationers have begun to shake up the UK stationery sector by developing enticing products and offering a stimulating instore experience. Smiggle, through identifying a clear target market, creating unique products (such as scented pencil cases and lollipop rubbers) and having exciting stores has solidified itself as a classroom status symbol among school children. kikki.K has also developed a clearly defined target market designing sophisticated, minimalist stationery collections for women in their 20s and 30s, with stores reflecting its stationery designs by having simple Swedish inspired interiors. Lastly Typo has just opened its first UK store in Westfield Stratford targeting teenagers with stationery inspired by aspects of modern culture and the social media age. The retailer’s proposition is quite similar to Paperchase except that it has a slightly edgier and cooler brand appeal with swearwords and slogans plastered across products.

“In less than two years Smiggle has opened 86 stores and aims for 200 stores by 2019. Smiggle should be cautious with this expansion as children are notoriously fickle, and what is cool one day is likely to be replaced quickly by something else in the near future. kikki.K has been slower to expand than Smiggle with only eight stores throughout the UK. However the retailer is better suited for long term appeal among consumers; with it having limited direct competition as designs are more mature and classic than its closest competitor Paperchase.

kikkiK image

Photo shows: kikki.K new 2107 ranges

“Gifting is a large part of these new entrants’ propositions, with unique designs and a higher price tag they are not trying to appeal to consumers who need a basic pen or notepad. They are instead tapping into demand from consumers who want something special, making these retailers a great choice for gifting – something traditional UK stationery retailers have been failing to exercise. kikki.K is especially keen to associate itself with the gifting market and is currently operating two pop-up stores in Kingston and Bluewater shopping centre throughout the Christmas trading period, this will allow kikki.K to test demand in new locations and maximise on the Christmas gift giving period.”

The report goes on to say:

“The likes of WHSmith and Ryman should not feel threatened by these new players. The UK oldies are clearly tapping into needs-driven purchases while emerging Aussie players focus on creating aspirational brands driven by desire rather than necessity. There will always be some demand for basic stationery; however as consumers turn to technology for note taking this demand is becoming weaker. Ryman will remain relevant through targeting offices with wholesale stationery – a move that is particularly lucrative considering wholesale stationery provider Staples has dropped out of the market. Meanwhile WHSmith’s stationery proposition will become increasingly exposed if it does not do more to excite shoppers and appeal to new markets.

“Regardless of new players, traditional retailers must do more to appeal to consumers and not rely on their past success to drive future sales. Currently customer service in these stores is average and instore experience is poor – to the extent that WHSmith’s even has a Twitter page dedicated to consumers mocking its lack of effort in visual merchandising. As a long-term strategy these retailers need to energise their brands, and make sure their retail experience mirrors what millennials have come to expect.”

You can find out more about GlobalData by clicking here, and follow their twitter feed at @retail_GDUK


Posted on 10th February 2017 by Vanessa Fortnam