Sweaty Betty sprints to the head of the retail pack with its £95 leggings

They are said to defy gravity. That's certainly what this business is doing 

James Moore
Chief Business Commentator
Tuesday 03 October 2017 13:00
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'Gravity defying leggings' have helped to make Sweaty Betty a gravity defying business
'Gravity defying leggings' have helped to make Sweaty Betty a gravity defying business

The economy might be reeling from Brexit, and the hash that is being made of it by a wretched Government, but the British consumer is still spending in a way that seems to defy gravity.

If you want an example of that, consider the gym bunny’s honey Sweaty Betty, which is making it hot for rival retailers by powering ahead like Asha Philip chasing down America’s finest sprinters.

French accounts show that the firm, founded by Simon and Tamara Hill-Norton in fashionable Notting Hill, managed to increase turnover by a startling 16.3 per cent in the year ending December 25 2016. Profits jumped by nearly 90 per cent. Numbers like that will probably lead to accusations of witchcraft in some retailing circles, even taking into account consumers' resilience.

All the more so when you consider that the business has been built upon the fondness of female fitness fanatics for "Zero Gravity" leggings that go for £95 a pair - no you didn’t misread that and you'd imagine certain retail CEOs would be banging their heads against their desks if they were to.

“How do they do it. Call in the corporate spies. We have to discover their secret!”

But it really isn’t that hard to divine. By all accounts, Sweaty Betty has produced a winning product. There are, however, plenty of winning products out there in the fitness market.

Its genius has been to convince a niche of consumers, people that have plenty of disposable cash in their pockets with which to treat themselves, that it’s a product that they just have to have.

“Our mission is to empower women through fitness and beyond,” says the company’s website, under the heading ‘brand purpose’.

Quite how women are empowered through having their pockets picked is frankly beyond me, but then I’m not exactly in the target market.

The company’s marketing has worked wonders with those that are. The, ahem, "bum sculpting superheroes" (it’s hard as a male to write that without wincing slightly but I should stress that I continue to quote for the website) will "change your life,” says Tamara. Or at least your workout.

Guaranteed!

And to go with the leggings? There’s s a Boyfriend Run Tee for £45, which is a snip compared to the Breeze Short Sleeve Tee at £65, and the Thermal Pleat Tech Run Hoody that will set you back an eye-popping £145.

Products like that have made the 60-strong chain of stores a roaring success, at a time when the economy ought to have it in the slow lane. A gravity defying business superhero even.

Just imagine how this company could do if, when, things start to look a little cheerier than they are right now.

In the meantime the Hill-Nortons probably ought to be on the shortlist for just about every business award going.

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