Express & Star

Wolverhampton retailers grow by a third through 12-month ebay programme

Businesses who took part in eBay’s Retail Revival project in Wolverhampton have seen sales top more than £7 million.

Last updated
Rob Hattrell, vice president of eBay UK

They also experienced an average growth rate of 33 per cent – 26.5 per cent higher than the average increase in turnover for all small retail businesses across the UK between 2017 and 2018.

The programme, which has been running in partnership with Wolverhampton City Council for 12 months, was created by eBay to provide digital skills training to more than 60 small retailers in Wolverhampton.

Sole traders were the biggest beneficiaries, enjoying a growth rate of nearly 100 per cent.

A survey of the businesses involved found that 58 per cent have hired or plan to hire more staff, 51 per cent have expanded their business premises or plan to and 53 per cent have exported their product to customers overseas.

With more than half of the participating businesses having a physical shop, the programme was designed to test how online and offline can complement each other to help local economies thrive through retail.

Economic analysis shows that the Retail Revival programme brought over £750,000 of additional business revenue to the city of Wolverhampton, meaning the revenue was not diverted from another local business, and genuine economic growth was achieved.

The programme has been a testbed for future SME growth and, if rolled out nationally, eBay estimates it could generate £227 million in revenue for small retailers across the UK.

Sophie Ison, store manager at Homesmart Blinds, one of the businesses that took part in the programme, said: “Before eBay’s Retail Revival programme, we operated solely out of our bricks and mortar store. Joining the programme gave us the skills and encouragement we needed to get online and thanks to eBay, we now have a steady flow of additional revenue coming through our online shop and have been able to develop new product lines as a result.

"Over the past year we have been able to establish the Homesmart Blinds brand and plan to expand our premises in the near future.”

Rob Hattrell, vice president of eBay UK, said: “This clearly shows that the doom and gloom rhetoric surrounding UK high streets does not have to be a story that continues. The shift towards increased online spending is an opportunity for businesses to complement their physical store with online revenue, as well as an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs starting out.

“I am immensely proud of this programme, the people who have delivered it and, most importantly, the businesses who have been part of it. They say the proof is in the pudding, and these results clearly demonstrate that online and high street retail can survive and indeed thrive together.”

Wolverhampton Council director of regeneration, Richard Lawrence, added: “The Retail Revival scheme has been hugely successful for Wolverhampton businesses and a fantastic example of how public and private sector can work together to be truly transformational.

“As a council, we were eager to work with eBay to boost the online skills of small businesses with a physical base in the city – almost as an as an antidote to the decline of the high street, complimentary not conflicting.

“I’d like to pay tribute to our eBay colleagues and the hardworking businesses for their efforts. The growth it has produced cements our growing reputation as a city of opportunity – a place benefitting from £4.4 billion of investment, underpinned by 5G technology roll-out.”