Matalan introduces AI tool; sales remain strong as losses widen

Fashion and homewares retail chain Matalan has reported a growth in sales although losses widened.

According to its latest filed accounts for the year ended 25 February 2023, total sales rose 10% to £1.1bn from £1bn in 2022.

Pre-tax losses resulted at £103.4m, significantly widening from a loss of £7.6m recorded the previous year.

Matalan said that store sales grew strongly year-on-year, while online sales fell slightly due in part to a rebalancing of customer demand back to stores following the Covid pandemic. Online sales still remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Stated within its report, the company said: “Despite the operating company delivering strong revenue growth, the inflationary pressures faced by the business in terms of escalating inbound supply chain and staff costs severely impact its level of performance.

“In addition, the deterioration in the currency exchange rate of sterling against the dollar and a need to significantly invest in promotional activity to stimulate sales volumes and to clear excess inventory meant the company saw a significant degradation in its level of profitability.”

In recent news, Matalan has launched a Generative AI (GenAI) tool to create its product descriptions and deliver a seamless online experience for customers.

Matalan has partnered with global digital transformation consultancy Kin + Carta to launch the new GenAI and Large Language Model (LLM) tool, which creates detailed product descriptions for items listed on its website. It marks the first time a UK retailer has used AI in this way and forms an important part of Matalan’s digital transformation journey.

The tool will be implemented across all departments, including clothing and homeware. As well as making shopping online with Matalan even easier, it is expected to deliver a 4x increase in productivity.

Ali Jones, Chief Customer and Omnichannel Officer at Matalan, said: “As the UK’s first retailer to be leveraging Generative AI in this way, this is a hugely exciting moment for Matalan. Not only does it demonstrate innovation into new and so far, unexplored areas, but it shows our commitment to putting our customers and the shopping experience first – whether they’re shopping on our website or through the Matalan app. This all ladders up to our ambitious business transformation, so it’s a proud moment to be announcing this industry-first.”

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