Independent homewares retailer Hunting For George is pulling out of the troubled retail sector and will instead move forward as a creative media company.
The award-winning e-commerce brand, founded by Jo Harris and Lucy Glade-Wright in 2010, made the shock announcement yesterday afternoon, revealing Harris will also be leaving the business.
The founders tell SmartCompany the decision was mutual, with Glade-Wright expressing an interest in pivoting the business towards content creation and away from retail sales.
“We got to a point where I wanted to explore my options in taking my skill set to other retailers, that gave Lucy the opportunity to pivot Hunting for George,” Harris says.
Harris has taken a role at Alita Harvey Rodriguez’ retail consultancy Milk It Academy, whose clients include Mountain Bikes Direct, Alfa Romeo and the Gold Coast Titans.
Glade-Wright has turned off Hunting For George’s e-commerce store and is already in discussions with several retailers about creative brand partnerships.
The business will now focus on developing content and stories around retail products and hopes to work with retail businesses to develop their branding strategies.
Harris says pessimism about retail was part of the decision to pivot Hunting for George.
“Retail has been a challenge over the last few years, no one can deny that,” she says.
Earlier this month National Australia Bank economists declared the retail sector is in recession, an admission which has sent shock-waves through the industry this month amid broader concern about economic headwinds.
Both founders still believe there are plenty of opportunities in the industry, but it is hoped the change, more than nine months in the making, will enable Hunting For George to leverage its strengths.
“We’ve been telling stories since day one, we’ve just noticed far greater opportunities on the content side,” Glade-Wright says.
“We got to a point in retail where we got too big to be small, but we were too small to be big.”
Starting with just $20,000 in initial investment, Glade-Wright and Harris managed to turn Hunting For George into a multi-million dollar online retailer over five years.
The pair managed to record net promoter scores in the seventies, which by industry standards is a standout result.
The business now reaches 1.5 million people each week, an audience which will be key in supporting the business on its new venture.
Glade-Wright says customer feedback so far has been positive as the business always placed a premium on the storytelling around its products.
Harris says the authenticity of the brand should carry the company in good stead moving forward and says her focus will be on making the case for customer experience out in the market.
“Customer experience is very much a hot topic at the moment and there’s a need to refocus retailers on why it’s really important,” she says.