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Saturday 25 January 2020

Allbirds eyes more stores as online retailer keeps faith in UK high street

Sandeep Verma, managing director Europe for Allbirds, said the firm’s financial performance has been ‘great’ since entering the UK market in 2018.

Online retailer Allbirds is considering more UK stores (Allbirds/PA)
Online retailer Allbirds is considering more UK stores (Allbirds/PA)

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Allbirds said it is mulling opening more bricks and mortar stores in the UK despite the downturn of the UK high street.

The rapidly growing online footwear retailer said it could open another new site in London and other major cities, more than a year after the launch of its first UK store in the capital.

Sandeep Verma, managing director Europe for Allbirds, said the US unicorn firm has seen rapid growth since launching in the UK in July 2018.

The brand opened its European headquarters in London last year and has since continued its global expansion to cover 13 European countries.

The boss of its European business said it will not take its foot off the accelerator and expects to surge into new markets in 2020.

Despite the vast majority of Allbirds sales coming through its online platform, Mr Verma said he is confident in a bright future for high-street outlets in the UK.

However, he said he believes Allbirds’ site in central London works well because of how it “complements” the firm’s online business, giving customers an opportunity to feel and try on the physical product.

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Sandeep Verma, Allbirds managing director Europe (Allbirds/PA)

Mr Verma said: “Our growth plan is focused on a number of key areas, including international growth, which Europe is a good example of, and also a desire for more stores. The stores for us have a really important role.

“Not only can we offer our consumer a chance to try a shoe on which is important – they can also experience the materials and hear the stories from our advisers.

“We’re really proud of the interaction we have with our consumer because when you’re a good direct-to-consumer brand, you’re making a commitment with your consumer, which is on a much deeper level.”

He added that the business feels “great” about its financial position in the UK, as well as the reception it has had from customers.

Mr Verma said: “The reception, particularly from Londoners, has been incredible.

“We are seeing that in the review, we see that in sales and our return rate, so I think over time, there will be an opportunity to do more in the UK.”

The online retailer, which was founded by Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger in 2014, was valued at more than 1.4 billion US dollars (£1.1 billion) in 2018 after completing a 50 million dollar fundraising.

Last month, the Allbirds founders accused Amazon of creating a shoe which was “strikingly similar” to its environmentally friendly footwear, as pressure continues to increase on the fast-growing innovator.

PA Media

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