HomeChoice becomes more digitally savvy - but its textiles business remains a winner

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A HomeChoice showroom in Soweto.
A HomeChoice showroom in Soweto.
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  • HomeChoice International's digital strategy has resulted in 73% of its transactions taking place on digital platforms in the first six months of 2022. 
  • HiL sells products across different categories in addition to homeware, such as baby products, 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 from its mail order days, and yet its traditional textiles division remains a popular choice with customers.

The company, which was established as a homeware business in 1985, became known for its popular bedding sets that customers could buy and pay off.

Today, the Mauritius-registered group is a diversified digital consumer services group, which also offers credit. 

The company's digital strategy has resulted in 73% of its transactions taking place on digital platforms in the first six months of this year. 

HomeChoice now sells products across different categories in addition to homeware, such as baby products, appliances, and electronics.

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Its financial services business is made up of FinChoice MobiMoney, which provides personalised loans, as well as PayJustNow, which offers consumers three equal interest-free instalments on products. Both fall under the Weaver Fintech brand.

In the results presentation for the half-year ended 30 June, retail CEO Chris de Wit said the retail division's gross profit margin has been on a steady increase, following its decline 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% then to its current 48%. 

De Wit attributed the improvement to strong demand for textiles, which is the group's traditional core business.

"We've seen quite a nice pickup in demand by really focusing on our heritage [textiles] and also … making it easier for our customers to shop whichever way they want to shop," De Wit said. The performance of textiles was also supported by marketing campaigns.

Textiles account for 58% of the retail division's sales. That said, overall retail sales were down 10% in the six months as consumers continued to face financial pressure.

With regards to the strategy for the division going forward, De Wit said the group had refined its credit strategy and was acquiring lower-risk customers, to whom it is curating its marketing efforts.

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This strategy attracts younger customers and affluent ones, who are drawn to the baby, personal care and bedding categories in particular, he said.

HomeChoice's customers look a little different 37 years later. HomeChoice chairperson Shirley Maltz said the average age of the company's FinChoice financial services customers is 40, and 92% of their transactions take place digitally.

"Our customer [is] obviously urban, she's much more digital savvy … she likes interacting digitally," Maltz said.

At 70%, women make up the majority of HomeChoice's customers. 

In the half-year results released on Tuesday, HiL said it added 132 000 new customers to its base in the period.

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