Ex-Matalan chief launches ecommerce consultancy

Big player: Andrew Banks said Venture Forge has a client list that included some big retail names.
Big player: Andrew Banks said Venture Forge has a client list that included some big retail names.

The former Head of Ecommerce at Matalan has launched a new agency designed to help high growth ecommerce businesses thrive in a digitally-dominated market.

Based in Halifax, Venture Forge has been founded by Andrew Banks with a mission to build exceptional ecommerce businesses through strategy, design and ongoing growth marketing.

Mr Banks spent four years with Matalan, joining in 2014 after the ecommerce business, Earth Bathrooms, was bought by the retailer and became Matalan Direct.

Following the sale, he took up the role of Matalan Direct’s Chief Operating Officer until it merged with Matalan.

He became the retailer’s Head of Ecommerce in December 2016, leading to the largest ecommerce growth in the company’s history, growing the business by 45% (£24m) in 15 months before leaving to launch Venture Forge earlier this year.

With a second office in London, Venture Forge already has some big retail players on its client list including fashion brands Nicole Farhi and Wolsey, plus kids bedding business, Character World, and furniture brand Arista Living.

The agency is also supporting a private equity firm on their ecommerce investments.

From strategy, design and development, and ongoing growth marketing, the team at Venture Forge brings over 20 years’ ecommerce experience and can deliver tangible strategies that drive growth.

Its latest recruit is Tori Coffey who recently joined the business as Ecommerce Manager, relocating from Belfast where she led 4Beauty Group’s digital strategy for two years.

Venture Forge also boasts its own in-house brands, including Re:fresh Drinkware, a fully reusable drinks bottle that not only reduces plastic use but also keeps drinks hot or cold for up to 24 hours.

Mr Banks believes it is the agency’s entrepreneurial flair and mature knowledge of the industry that is helping it make a name as a leading, growth-focused, results-driven ecommerce specialist for high-growth businesses.

He said: “Growing and preserving brands is what we do, whether it’s our own brands or our clients’ and the business’ internal culture of entrepreneurialism plays a big part in that. Having our own brands means we can strengthen our expertise in ecommerce and growth marketing and gives clients greater conviction when they trust us with building their businesses with them.

“The impact that the digital age is having on the retail industry is immense. It’s a fight for survival even for longest-established retailers.

“To survive, retailers of all sizes are needing to adapt and innovate if they want to retain their place in the retail market and we can help them do that through our agile approach.”