The vanishing of House of Fraser: what did this mean for search?

Emily Hogarth, 23 Oct 2018

Back in August, House of Fraser was bought by Sports Direct for a tasty £90m. The chain had gone into administration following revenue loss as they failed to adapt to new ways of consumer shopping.

Almost immediately after the deal, HoF’s site was taken offline and replaced with an advert for Flannels.com (also owned by Sports Direct). This removal was reflected in our search data – HoF completely dropped off the map. For at least a month there was no HoF activity at all online, then towards the end of September it suddenly reappeared and regained some of its former online visibility.

What happened whilst House of Fraser’s website was offline?

Now that HoF is back on the web, using our ‘Fashion retail leaderboard’ data we decided to take a look at what this disappearance meant for the online retail landscape.

The chart below shows the vanishing of HoF from the online fashion market.

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Having a redirect to another site, was clearly not the right choice for HoF’s site as they had zero visibility for any fashion terms for the whole of September – which as we know, is an essential research time for Autumn/Winter wear.

The repercussions of missing out on this revenue opportunity could be vast for an already struggling retailer.

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Opportunity for others?

This next chart, also using data from the ‘Fashion leaderboard’, shows share of voice over time for the top 12 performing sites in the fashion retail sector.

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As you can see HoF’s (orange) decline correlates with Debenhams (yellow) uplift; whilst Debenhams had already emerged as a leader in the online fashion market, they seem to have made the most of HoF’s leftover opportunity.

Whilst taking down the site was bad news for HoF, other players in the market were there to reap the rewards. Now HoF is back in the running, will we see a decline from those that increased their share up until September?

What does this mean for the House of Fraser website now?

On our ‘Fashion leaderboard’, HoF is 16th which is pretty impressive, seeing as they were out of action for a month.

It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to climb higher than this and regain further share, but what is glaring is that, the decision to redirect to another site did HoF no favours in an already turbulent time.

As more and more fashion retailers struggle to adapt to both the realities of online shopping and in-store footfall, we’re seeing former giants vanish from our screens and our streets.

Using search intelligence, you can see who is vulnerable, who’s succeeding, and dive deeper into the performance of any brand.

If you like the insight from this blog, download our Fashion Retail report for more.

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Posted in Sector insights