News story

Online retail in UK set to top £77bn in 2012

The market has exploded in recent years, with 30 per cent of all cross border trade in Europe, going through UK retailers. John Andrews …

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The market has exploded in recent years, with 30 per cent of all cross border trade in Europe, going through UK retailers.

John Andrews is Managing Director of Interactive Media in Retail Groups (IMRG). He said: “This means that British retailers export more than the rest of Europe’s e-retailers put together. It is a huge business - last year our research found that there were 228,000 UK online retail businesses now, that’s an estimated 30 per cent more than the year before.”

He added that this number was expected to double to 1.5 million by 2015.

The British dominance in online retail is one of the main topics of discussion at the British Business Embassy at Lancaster House on August 9.

The British Business Embassy, developed by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), is the centrepiece of the Government’s international business legacy programme taking place during London 2012’s Olympic Games time.

Minister for UK Trade & Investment, Lord Green, said: “We will be welcoming 3,000 UK and international business leaders at Lancaster House for one of the country’s most ambitious series of business summits. London 2012 offers a unique opportunity for global leaders to meet, debate and do business. It is also a chance for us to demonstrate our outstanding expertise, skills and knowledge in all sectors and share this with the world.”

The Retail Food and Drink day on August 9, will see government ministers and some of the world’s leading CEOs from the sector come together,to showcase UK innovations and introduce international and UK companies to one another. Britain is a great place to do business and UKTI can offer companies a wealth of business support either for exporting or setting up in the UK.

Mr Andrews will be among those discussing how the UK’s innovations can impact globally as well as exploring how international and UK companies can collaborate and partner in the future.

The event programme key note speeches and seminars include:

  • online retail;

  • identifying global challenges in health and wellness;

  • meeting the demands of the global consumer in a sustainable manner and the ethical journey through the supply chain, retailers and consumers; and

  • the Omni/multi channel retail and how modern technology increasingly allows the consumer to dictate how they interact with a brand.

Other speakers and participants include Nick Robertson, CEO of ASOS, Stephen Robertson, Director General of British Retail Consortium, Stefano Pessina, Executive Chairman of Alliance Boots, Mr Luis Cantarell, President and CEO of Nestle Health Science S.A, Tim Cofer, President of Kraft Foods Europe, Marc Bolland, CEO Marks and Spencer, Paul Walsh, CEO of Diageo PLC and John Brock, Global CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises.

Mr Andrews added that mobile and m-commerce had confirmed the breakthrough they had anticipated in online retail. He said: “All over the world, in emerging as well as mature economies, the use of mobile internet is rapidly increasing. In the UK, shopping through mobile devices is continuing to grow at remarkable speed with sales through mobile devices penetrating the 5 % barrier of total e-retail sales for the first time in Q4 2011.”

For more information on the British Business Embassy, or to request images please contact Rosetta Buahin +44 (0) 207 215 8530 or email**

Notes to editors

**The British Business Embassy at Lancaster House is the centrepiece of UK Trade & Investment’s international business legacy programme during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

It will play host to 18 global business summits across six weeks providing thought-leadership and panel sessions, networking opportunities and face-to-face meetings for senior British and international decision-makers.

The programme, which will start on the eve of the Olympic Games, is part of a series of initiatives expected to generate over £1bn in trade and investment for the UK. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the Government Department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy - acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit []( or telephone +44 (0)207 215 8000. For latest press releases, visit the online newsroom at [](

All figures stated sourced from IMRG

  • In 2011 the UK market was worth £68.2bn and is arguably the most competitive in the world.
  • From research IMRG carried out last July:

  • 730,000 people now in e-commerce, 20% more than the year before
  • 228,000 online retail businesses, an estimated 30% more than the year before
  • It is expected that this number will double to 1.5 million by 2015

    • Sales via mobile devices grew from 0.4% of e-retail sales at the start of 2010, to 5.3% in the space of just two years (includes tablet devices)
    • 2.6% of visits to e-retail sites were through mobile in 2010; this surged to 8.2% in 2011.

BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See []( for more information.

Notes to Editors

Contact Information

Name BIS Press Office Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Phone




Name Michael Gibbs Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Phone 020 7215 1635 Fax



Published 15 June 2012