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Moody’s Blues for House of Fraser; but Website Failings are Just as Damaging

David Jinks MILT (pictured)
Head of Consumer Research, Parcelhero
Moody’s Blues for House of Fraser; but Website Failings are Just as Damaging
As the leading credit rating agency Moody’s declares House of Fraser to be in technical default on its loans, and fellow rating agency S&P says House of Fraser’s new debt arrangements are ‘tantamount to a default’, the parcel delivery comparison site ParcelHero says House of Fraser must adopt a digital-led approach or die.

It says the crisis that HoF now finds itself in clearly reflects the inability of older institutions to move as fast as modern e-commerce sites.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says: ‘Clearly the latest credit agency warnings are bad news for House of Fraser, its investors, and those loyal shoppers who continue to visit its stores. In order to survive, House of Fraser needs to resolve the legal action being taken by unhappy landlords, to free up a £70 million investment promised by its Chinese investor C.banner, or ask Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley (who already holds 11% of HoF shares) to inject a much-needed loan. But that’s not addressing the heart of the problem, which is outdated stores and an even more outmoded web site.’

Says David: ‘Our Special Report, released in May, Departing Department Stores, singled out House of Fraser for criticism because of its antiquated web integration. Ordering furniture such as most of its online sofa range involves leaving the main site altogether and linking to a ‘white label’ site operated not by House of Fraser, but, confusingly by a “rival”’ furniture site, A. Share & Sons site – best known for their ScS branded stores.

Observes David: ‘So clunky is the integration that Items placed in main site ‘bag’ do not appear in A. Share & Sons site ‘basket’ and vice versa; meaning it’s not even possible to buy clothes and furniture in the same transaction.’

Concludes David: ‘It is to be hoped House of Fraser resolves its funding issues successfully; but even when it has done this, and closed the 31 stores it plans to axe under its sweeping plans for reform, it must still drag its web functionality into the 21st century. Only then can HoF can offer the seamless brick and click multiplatform approach to sales that is essential for modern retailers.’