Vergo Retail develops online presence

Screenshot of holding page (15 Feb 2010)

Screenshot of holding page (15 Feb 2010)

Google ‘Vergo Retail’, and the likelihood is that you’ll currently find Soult’s Retail View among the top few search results. Indeed, since this blog launched in July, five of the top ten searches that people have used to find the site have related to the Liverpool-based department store operator, with the Ipswich store proving particularly popular:

  • hollister newcastle: 262
  • vergo ipswich: 252
  • vergo retail: 145
  • vergo retail ipswich: 84
  • wilkinsons logo: 81
  • clas ohlson: 63
  • co-op department store norwich: 48
  • hollister eldon square: 47
  • vergo department stores: 47
  • woolworths closing down: 47.

I suspect that the main reason why this blog has consistently shown up so highly in Google has been for want of much competition: other than a dedicated site for its famous Lewis’s store in Liverpool [broken link removed], Vergo has lacked any online presence of its own to date.

However, given the evident interest from people searching for information about its stores, I’ve always thought that Vergo has been missing a trick, and wondered how long it would be before a company website appeared. Consequently, even though it may mean that my own Vergo-related traffic takes a hit, I was pleased to see that a holding page is now in place at vergoretail.co.uk [broken link removed] (and vergoretail.net) promising that “an exciting new website is under construction”.

Vergo's Robbs of Hexham store. Photograph by Graham Soult

Vergo's Robbs of Hexham store

Helpfully, the holding page also features a list of Vergo’s 20 stores across the UK, including the aforementioned Lewis’s, the two here in the North East (Robbs of Hexham, and Joplings of Sunderland), and the remainder acquired from the Plymouth & South West and East of England Co-operative Societies during 2009.

The iconic Joplings store in Sunderland. Photograph by Graham Soult

The iconic Joplings store in Sunderland

Following my earlier questioning, the site confirms that the former East of England Co-op stores have simply been rebranded as Vergo. The full-range department stores are called Vergo Ipswich, Vergo Norwich, etc., while the slightly smaller shops go under the names of Vergo Fashion, Home & More! or Vergo at Home. The Homemaker stores that were acquired in Devon and Cornwall currently retain that name, though presumably it will make sense for them to become Vergo at Home in due course.

In a post about web usability last year, I noted that while not all retailers will want or need an e-commerce site, there’s still great value in a website “providing basic information about the business” – details such as news, opening times, directions and contact numbers.

If the upcoming Vergo site does this – as the Lewis’s one does already – then it will surely perform a worthwhile function. At the same time, the site will also help to demonstrate the company’s continued investment in growing its business, and the development of Vergo as a national brand, rather than just a slightly disparate portfolio of acquisitions.

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