‘Our brand must constantly surprise’ says Argos’ own label boss

Fresh from adding 400 new lines to its own-label Heart of House homeware collection, Alyson Lockley, head of own brand at Argos has told Marketing Week to ‘expect the unexpected’ as the retailer continues to broaden its appeal.

Having already partnered with the likes of eBay and Sainsbury’s – with the first of several digital stores opening within the supermarket chain two weeks ago – Lockley says Argos must continue to seek out brand partnerships in order to broaden its appeal.

“The Sainsbury’s concession is exciting as we feel we are at the stage where we are comparable to Sainsbury’s as a brand and are emulating their reach,” she said.

“People didn’t expect us to work with Sainsbury’s or eBay and moving forward we will look to constantly surprise and do the unexpected. I think we have to do completely new things to make Argos as convenient as possible in both a digital and psychical sense.”

Argos is currently at 60 digital stores – in which its famous catalogues are replaced with tablets for ordering – as it considers converting its 755 store estate but Lockley played down the digital transformation.

She added: “Digital stores are very much still a test as we are still learning what exactly works and listening to feedback. There are also still a large chunk of customers who enjoy using catalogues so the transition is a gradual one.”

Lockley said Argos is equally as concerned about broadening its product appeal and hopes that a focus on upmarket homeware will help it to meet a target of making own label one third of total sales by 2018.

In the Autumn, Argos will launch a marketing push to promote the Heart of House range as well as its Chad Valley toy range. Lockley hopes the former’s emphasis on upmarket products such as the new Autumn Tartan Fabric chair (£379.99) will bring a different type of customer to Argos.

“Ensuring that our own-brand is compelling is what will most help to evolve the perception of Argos as a master brand and increase return visits from customers,” she said.

“Differentiation and excusive products is key to us evolving.”

Claiming that Argos has secured 29 new brand partnerships for its latest homeware range, Lockley concluded: “Heart of House has already generated 10% new customers to Argos and with Chad Valley, we have seen 50% of mothers ordering toys from their smartphone. We want to look at the market trends, whether its premium, digital or smartphones, and make sure we are leading on them.”

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