While online fashion sales are shrinking and even Zalando is unable to keep up, Belgian retailer Schoenen Torfs continues its growth. As online sales pushed its turnover upwards 8 %, the Belgian chain feels the need to expand its distribution centre significantly.
Incorporating HQ in warehouse
Schoenen Torfs continues to sell more shoes in a declining market. Only 2.7 % of the growth in the first half of the year was caused by price increases, meaning there was clear volume growth. E-commerce was a major driver for that: the webshop grew by 10 % in the first six months of the year, CEO Lise Conix told Belgian newspaper De Tijd.
E-commerce is already good for a fifth of Torfs’ total turnover, selling as much as eleven physical stores. To accommodate the growth, Torfs is now spending three million euro to expand its distribution centre in Temse. The warehouse will have four extra floors inside, making it over a third larger. The expansion will also make room for Torfs’ head offices, which are currently housed in a nearby but separate building.
Nearing the maximum
To reduce costs, the enlarged warehouse will focus heavily on automation. For instance, a new packing machine will soon increase capacity from 500 to 800 parcels per hour. The distribution centre will be able to shift more parcels with fewer employees: Conix expects to need fewer temporary workers soon.
The expansion is remarkable, as online shoe sales are certainly struggling this year. Zalando is even counting on a drop in sales this year after a very disappointing quarter. For Torfs, online growth is all the more important because the it has almost reached its maximum physical expansion in Flanders. As the chain’s Walloon expansion has yet to really kick off, Conix is looking for other growth opportunities. The renewal of existing shops, including a range of clothing and accessories, is already catching on: the renewed shops are selling 10 to 15 % more.