Clifford McDowell, chief executive of website business Mr Site, explains his strategy to shift the business from the value market to the middle market, and expansion into India and continental Europe.
#bstartup Clifford McDowell, chief executive of website business Mr Site, explains his strategy to shift the business from the value market to the middle market, and discusses its expansion into India and continental Europe.
Operating in the hyper-competitive online product space, Mr Site offers customers products that enable them to build their own websites. Founded in 2004 by Bea Hatherley and Stuart Spice, the business now has 50,000 active customers and a turnover of £2 million a year.
McDowell, who was appointed chief executive 18 months ago, tells GrowthBusiness at the Business Startup Show about moving the business to the mid-range market, international expansion and plans to ‘reinvigorate’ the brand.
‘We have no debts, we don’t owe anyone any money, and that means we are taking the income from our current customer base to actually reinvigorate the brand, because although it is still very, successful and very popular, there is a big pent up demand for e-commerce.
‘At the moment we have websites which are pretty much websites with a shopping cart attached to them. Our new product is a pure out-and-out e-commerce beast, which is totally about selling. It will be designed similar to [the websites of] John Lewis and Debanhams, although priced very well.
‘The business is growing about 7 per cent at the moment. Fortunately the recession has been good for us because as a lot of people have been made redundant, they have looked at starting their own business.
‘Also, we have an operation in India which has been going for three years and is expanding by 30 per cent, year-on-year. We have a support team of about 40, and we have recently put in place a new sales and public relations team.
‘The Indian market is extremely fragmented so we decided that while we have the support team and office space there, it would be silly not to stick a sales team in to see how much we can push it there.
‘In the UK, we are changing our products to be much more bigger, more expansive, detailed and powerful: but that also means increasing their cost. We are moving slightly away from the value end of the market to the quality end of the market.
‘We are also looking to expand into a franchise in the Benelex [Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxenburg]. We have chosen this area because English is very strong, we have a few wholesale contacts there and it is a nice little market to try.
‘Financially we are turning over £2 million a year, and we estimate to double that in six to 12 months.’