HomeChoice showroom in Soweto.
- HomeChoice International’s digital strategy resulted in 73% of transactions being conducted on digital platforms in the first six months of 2022.
- HiL sells products in various categories in addition to home goods such as baby products, home appliances and electronics.
- The group has seen strong demand for textiles, which are its traditional core business.
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HomeChoice International has come a long way since the days of mail order, but its traditional textiles department remains a popular choice among customers.
Founded in 1985 as a homewares company, it became known for its popular bedding sets that customers could buy and pay for.
Today, the Mauritius-registered group is a diversified digital consumer services group that also offers loans.
The company’s digital strategy has resulted in 73% of transactions taking place on digital platforms in the first six months of this year.
HomeChoice now sells products in a variety of categories in addition to home goods, such as baby products, appliances and electronics.
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Its financial services business consists of FinChoice MobiMoney, which provides personalized loans, and PayJustNow, which offers consumers three equal interest-free payments for products. Both fall under the Weaver Fintech brand.
In a presentation of results for the half year ended June 30, the retailer’s CEO Chris de Wit said the retail division’s gross profit was steadily rising after falling to 40% in the second half of 2020. But in the first half of 2021, there was an improvement, with the gross profit margin rising to 43% and then to the current 48%.
De Wit attributed the improvement to strong demand for textiles, the group’s traditional core business.
“We saw a pretty good increase in demand when we really focused on our heritage [textiles] as well as … making it easier for our customers to shop in any way they want,” De Wit said. Textile performance was also supported by marketing campaigns.
Textiles account for 58% of retail sales. However, overall retail sales fell 10% in six months as consumers continued to face financial pressures.
As for the division’s strategy going forward, De Wit said the group has refined its credit strategy and is acquiring lower-risk clients for which it oversees its marketing efforts.
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That strategy attracts younger and affluent customers who gravitate toward the baby, personal care and bedding categories in particular, he said.
37 years later, HomeChoice customers look a little different. HomeChoice chairwoman Shirley Maltz said the average age of FinChoice’s financial services customers is 40 and 92% of their transactions are done digitally.
“Our client [is] obviously urban, she’s a lot more digitally savvy … she likes to interact digitally,” Maltz said.
More than 70% of HomeChoice customers are women.
In its half-year results published on Tuesday, HiL said it added 132,000 new customers to its base during the period.