Boohoo offers UK retail relief with strong holiday sales gain

By BLOOMBERG

LONDON • Boohoo Group plc lifted its full-year growth forecast after the online apparel seller’s Instagram-fuelled marketing strategy paid off over the holidays, offering a measure of relief to an embattled UK retail sector.

The group lifted its growth forecast for the year to a range of 43% to 45% from a previous 38% to 43% after Christmas sales gains were led by popular brands PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal.

Boohoo’s performance allayed some concerns that the crisis in UK retail was spreading to online shopping, after a pre-Christmas profit warning from rival Asos plc and a series of bricks-and-mortar collapses.

Some investors were expecting an even more buoyant update, however.

After a roughly 30% rally since late December, and the shares were down 2% in London yesterday after early gains.

“Boohoo has bucked the trend of a difficult Christmas for many clothing retailers,” Jefferies analysts led by Caroline Gulliver wrote in a note.

Boohoo’s marketing strategy harnesses Instagram, where its brand ambassadors include Kourtney Kardashian and participants on the reality TV show “Love Island”. Stars pose in the company’s leopard-print dresses and neon-colored garments, persuading young customers to click through to its websites and fill their virtual shopping baskets.

Boohoo is expanding beyond its core UK market and achieved 78% growth in the US in the latest four months.