A tale of two sectors
It’s been a bumper year for retail, with 26 companies making our top 100. That’s a significant improvement even on last year, when there were 21 (including those previously defined as fashion companies).
In part, this is due to the consumer boom between the end of Covid lockdown restrictions in 2021 and the onset of the cost-of-living crisis in 2022 – a period squarely within our two-year reporting window.
Most of the GX retailers are direct-to-consumer and digital-first, which is unsurprising given the step change towards digital that occurred during the pandemic. By May 2022, 26.2% of all retail sales were online, according to the ONS, compared with 19.7% in February 2020.
However, there are strong signs of diversification into multichannel, with formerly pureplay D2Cs like Sosandar and Gymshark broadening their channels (the former now sells in Sainsbury’s;
the latter opened a flagship bricks-and-mortar store on London’s Regent Street in late 2022).
Most (15) GX retailers also export or operate abroad, with international revenue averaging 29.2% of turnover.
For at least the last two decades, tech has been the sector for growth. No other industry has produced so many stratospheric success stories so quickly – ever.
There are some who say the party is over. Big tech market caps have plummeted over the past year, with the likes of Meta, Alphabet and Amazon cutting tens of thousands of jobs worldwide amid
This trend appears to be reflected in Growth Index too, with the number of tech companies making the list dropping from 22 to 15.
We remain sanguine. Yes, big tech is finally maturing, and investors are moving away from speculative bets as interest rates rise, but the fundamental capacity to change the world at pace is still strong.
If anything, what we are seeing is tech becoming so central to business in all sectors that companies are no longer defining themselves by it. There’s a thin line between a tech company disrupting retail, for example, and a digital-first retailer.