Weird Fish celebrates 133% leap in EBITDA

Revenues at the UK lifestyle clothing brand were up by 71% to £35.5m in the year to 31 December 2021, compared to 2020, as a result of strong online sales during the period.

Overall ecommerce revenue was up by 74% to £21m against the prior year. The retailer said it drove more revenue online in November 2021 compared to the whole of 2019.

During 2021 the brand launched a new click and collect service, an online blog and a live chat facility on its website. It also brought out its first TV advert and doubled its marketing video content compared with the previous year.

EBITDA at Weird Fish leapt from £1.8m during the period to £4.2m, marking a 133% increase.

It has been a great year for the whole business in challenging circumstances. It has been a privilege to guide the business through this period, which was all down to our people and customers. Thank you.

Benoit Mercier


COVID, Brexit and sports back on


It has been a while since I put a post out there. In fact, it is just over 12 months since I got COVID and had to date the worse 10 months of my life. It all started with my kids. They had fever and felt unwell for approx. 7 days. As any parent knows, it is just a matter of time until you get it. The kids made a full recovery but I didn’t. I got all the symptoms, and I was confined in my bedroom without seeing anyone for 6 weeks. For all these people that do not believe in it, I hope you get it, experience it, recover from it and write about how you changed your mind.

An ambulance came twice to help me breathe and I am grateful to the NHS staff and any key worker. They all deserve a bonus, this is the right way to thank them. Note, I am not for a salary increase when private sectors have been counting their losses in thousands and we have a debt that will have to be paid for many generations to come. But they deserve financial recognition not just few people clapping.

The post COVID symptoms were actually the worst. Extreme tiredness (walking to a bathroom was more challenging than completing a marathon), massive migraines and of course massive chest pains. For a sport enthusiast that I am, it was mentally draining. I have now almost fully recovered, a year later. I ran my first 50km+ in the past 8 weeks and do not feel chest pains or unusual tiredness. But what a journey it has been and I feel lucky to still be able to seeing my kids when so many have passed away.

I have strong views as to whether this Government did a good job or not, but I will say that no Government, no matter where, did a better job than others at any particular time. The conundrum is that I understand people stating, and I agree to some extent, that these lockdowns have cost the economy for many decades to come a lot more than the disease has cost in lives. Afterall, less than 0.1% of the world adult population has died from COVID. You cannot argue either that other individuals will die from other illnesses by not receiving treatment or from economic consequences (and before you become angry at reading this post, think about how many countries outside of Europe do have the welfare system we do have!). But that being said, a life is a life, and we, as humans, should remember that we need to care for one another. Time for everyone to review their priorities and self-reflect.


I was wrong. It went through and it took over 4 years. Have I changed my mind? NEVER. Anyone that voted for it has been conned. The British empire is crumbling. Not sure what will remain of the Union Jack in the next few years. It was all about immigration, and the boomers generation took it all away. Northerners, farmers and fishermen were at the forefront of Brexit, I look forward to hearing from them in 10 years time. I will make my 10 year prediction, immigration will go up, and once the boomers generation has gone, the UK will rejoin the EU (and no, the EU will not crumble, this is pure fantasy from Brexiters). However, I will agree, the EU needs to be reformed and immigration policies reviewed. But better be part of these decisions than sidelined!

These two topics will continue to fuel debates for many years to come and I look forward to these. But it seems to me that the most pressing one now, is how do we protect our planet…until next time, goodbye

Benoit Mercier

BOE stark warning…to the clown

The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that the major economic impact of Brexit has yet to be felt, but it was likely to spell a weaker economy, higher inflation and higher interest rates in the coming years.
In his latest attack on Brexit and Boris Johnson may I add, Mark Carney said that it should be seen as a prime example of “de-globalisation”, adding that it was likely to dampen UK growth, and that any fall in migration numbers could also push up inflation and force the bank to raise borrowing costs. At the IMF, Mr Carney said Brexit was “an example of de-globalisation not globalisation”. He added: “It will proceed rapidly not slowly. Its effects will not build by stealth but can be anticipated.”
The Governor said any fall in migration following Britain’s departure could push up prices in the UK, saying: “Abrupt decreases in migration could result in shortages in some sectors that have become reliant on migrant labour, and contribute more materially to inflationary pressures.”
Mr Carney also said that while economic growth remained relatively resilient so far, it could take many years for the full impact of the transition to be felt by the UK economy, pointing out that any fall in the value of the currency could take as long as four years to feed into domestic prices.
However, he said that there was only so much the Bank could do with interest rates: “It is critical to recognise that Brexit represents a real shock about which monetary policy can do little. “Monetary policy cannot prevent the weaker real incomes likely to accompany the move to new trading arrangements with the EU, but it can influence how this hit to incomes is distributed between job losses and price rises.”And it can support UK households and businesses as they adjust to such profound change.”
However, Mr Carney’s speech also suggested that wages could rise faster if the UK left the EU, suggesting the Phillips Curve – a measure of the trade-off between inflation and employment – could steepen as a result.
His speech did not add much detail to the news last week that the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is now more open to the notion of an interest rate increase. He said: “If the economy continues to follow a path consistent with the prospect of a continued erosion of slack and a gradual rise in underlying inflationary pressure then, with the further lessening in the trade-off that this would imply, some withdrawal of monetary stimulus is likely to be appropriate over the coming months in order to return inflation sustainably to target. “Any prospective increases in bank rate would be expected to be at a gradual pace and to a limited extent, and to be consistent with monetary policy continuing to provide substantial support to the economy.”

Who would you trust, the man in charge of BOE or the clown touring the world? Do you really have to think 🙂

Benoit Mercier

What to make of Black Friday?

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s U.K. Asda Supermarket Entices Shoppers With Black Friday Deals

UK shoppers have rushed to buy Black Friday bargains, as retailers and payment firms report strong sales activity for the annual discount event. Barclaycard said it had seen a record number of transactions on Friday, while Argos, John Lewis and Currys PC World reported a surge in orders. Online retailers said initial figures indicated Black Friday, now into its third year, had topped expectations. We witnessed some crazy scenes in the past like at this ASDA (one step too far but across the pond it is even worse). But the question at Boardroom level is whether this is good for business. Here is my perspective in a debate that will go on for some years to come.

What is Black Friday?

Not sure how many people do know where it stems from. When my CEO asked me what it was called in France “Vendredi noir” I preferred to answer that all Fridays are black in France due to the amount of strikes happening at this time of year.

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November). Since 1932, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S., and most major retailers open very early (and more recently during overnight hours) and offer promotional sales. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day After Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate, have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. Similar stories resurface year upon year at this time, portraying hysteria and shortage of stock

What are people looking for during Black Friday and potential psychological impact?


According to Retail Week, most consumers will be looking for electricals, as well as, clothing bargains. IMRG predicted that over £1.27bn would be spent.

Andy Webb, of the Money Advice Service, said: “A third of people felt pressure to spend more than they could afford during the whole of Christmas. That leads into debt.”

For some, this can have a serious impact on their wellbeing.

“Short-term discounts encourage consumers to purchase immediately, rather than reflecting on whether you really need to buy a product and if you can afford it,” said Katie Evans, head of research and policy at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.

“This can be particularly difficult for people experiencing mental health problems, who sometimes find it harder to resist impulses and might find that shopping makes them feel better, at least for a short while.”

The institute is calling for new rules to allow people to opt out of email marketing or to set a daily spending limit in online shops.

Is Black friday driving profits?

This is the question that has been going on for the last three years at Boardroom level.

Reasons to hate it:

Paul Martin, KPMG’s UK Head of Retail, said: “For retailers, it has always been questionable whether Black Friday really benefits them in the long-run, and in the current environment of rising costs and squeezed margins – perhaps it’s even more so.” I would agree that this is like taking drugs (analogy of course). Give your customers a shot to make them fill good but it has no lasting impact. Last night watching BBC news I saw Peter Ruis’s (CEO Jigsaw) interview, whereby he declared themselves Black Friday refuseniks. His main argument is “In fashion, over 50% to 60% of Black Friday purchases are returned. It stays in the supply chain two or three weeks, churns around and everyone’s lost the chance to sell it, and it just goes straight into the sale at 50% to 60% off. It is a double whammy: loss of profit, loss of margin, and that product just sitting around in supply chains”. Hard to argue against, right? Well not so sure, that is my opinion.

  • Loss of profit and margins? It is all about volumes. Retailers have to work out their equilibrium point. If you manage to drive your revenue by having greater output at a bigger pace than you increase costs (which must include your returns costs). However, I do agree that you have a loss of margins, unless you buy products specifically for the occasion.
  • Products just sitting in the supply chain. For me this is down to forecasting and being confident in your supply chain management. Very easy to write but damn complex to run.
  • Negative brand impact. Discounting is never a happy recipe for brand reputations. it devalues your products. For an established brand, discounting can have an adverse affect on value. Quality and price do not exist as isolated concepts in consumers’ minds. They are interrelated. Research has shown that deep discounts do cause the consumer to believe that something is wrong. Frequent discounting serves to lower the value of the brand because of an almost subconscious reaction by the consumer who believes that quality also has been lowered. Or, in a “value rebound,” consumers begin to perceive the everyday price as too high. The brand is then bought only on deal.

Reasons to do it:

  • Market share/share of wallet: Like any business person my aim is to increase volumes and drive costs down but the reality in a competitive environment is that it is very difficult to do either, especially if you have access to little innovation. Therefore, an event like Black friday is an opportunity worth recognising. It is even harder nowadays when you are not just competing against other high street players but arguably the all world (thank you ecommerce). I find it very difficult to argue against being part of black Friday. Not because I like it, but because if you don’t you become isolated and one or many of your competitors will jump in the space.


My question to businesses who don’t take part in Black Friday is whether they feel that their customers brand loyalty is that high that there is little risk of losing them to competitors (you must have high confidence in your product offering, pricing structure and channel distribution). If the answer is low risk then continue to sit outside but if the answer is high then I am afraid that as you read this post you will already be against it.

Now if you are a football club (low risk of switching allegiance), I would understand but even the likes of Apple answered no to this question and took part yesterday. We are talking of a premium brand with high loyalty customers.

The reality is that core customers only account for a small percentage of your database and, although the most precious segment (profit wise), how much additional incremental growth can you drive from them? Acquisition must be high on your agenda and you must invest and fight for it to grow your active database. Also recognise the channels dynamics. Your competitors are not based in a 40 miles radius, they are all over the world and are called Amazon, Zalando, etc.

Finally, you can’t ignore the macro economic factors. Inflation is kicking in and next year all imports will become more expensive. The pound is weakening and businesses have not hedged for the next 5 years.Therefore, as costs go up, businesses will be under pressure to increase prices, which will suppress demand (simple supply/demand economic model). Consumers are not ignorant to this fact and events like Black Friday can only grow in my opinion as people will be hunting for bargains.

Looking forwards to your opinions 🙂

Benoit Mercier