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Hotter steps up investment in comfort footwear range

A chance to learn about key changes in this company's business model.

UK-based Hotter Shoes has invested more than £750,000 in comfort and stability product technology to develop its latest collection, with a comprehensive range tailored to demand from the ‘working from home’ consumer. The specialist footwear producer and retailer recently launched its spring/summer 2021 collection after developing 63 new styles, more than half of which are within the company’s comfort and casual lines. Hotter has also introduced several water-resistant walking boot designs as the business responds to the drop in formal outdoor wear and an upsurge in active footwear. This action was taken in order to counterbalance the downward trend in formal outdoor shoe sales.

Hotter’s significant investment in product design technological capabilities is in addition to a £250,000 investment in its innovative ‘Hotter Footprint’ 3D scanning technology to enable its technology centres to deliver a precision fit experience to customers. Despite downturns in office and formal footwear, the company saw huge growth in athleisure, comfort and outdoor categories amid the pandemic. Full-year turnover was reported to be £45 million ($62.2 million), with a forecasted growth of 31 per cent for 2021.

Going digital

In July 2020, Hotter announced that it was entering a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). As a result, 59 of its 82 stores were closed as it pre-empted difficult high street trading conditions and accelerated its long-term business strategy and retail channel switch to become a digital-first retailer.

According to chief executive Ian Watson, who was appointed in March 2019 to reposition the brand as a leading name in e-commerce, online sales momentum had been impressive during 2020 and forecasted a resilient 2021. Countering the closures and adapting to the downturn in physical retail, Hotter reported a better-than-expected surge in online sales, which jumped by 20 per cent over the lockdown period.

“Despite the uncertainty and tough retail environment brought on by both Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic over the last 12 months, we have had a strong year,” he said. “We expedited our five-year business strategy to meet the demands of the changing retail landscape and our growing digital base, and as a result we were able to report a strong surge in online sales for 2020. Ninety per cent of new customers over the past 12 months have been acquired through our digital channels.

“The CVA was a difficult but necessary decision, reducing our physical retail exposure by 75 per cent and placing the business on a strong footing to navigate the current retail conditions and remain a profitable and scalable business,” Mr Watson continued. “Without this move, we would be in a very different position today. We are now predominantly an online-first retailer, and we will continue to focus on the digitalisation of our retail channels as we move through 2021, ensuring that we continue our growth towards becoming one of the UK’s leading online retailers.”

The photograph above shows Ian Watson, who was appointed CEO in 2019 to lead the company’s e-commerce drive.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 6 of the April 2021 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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