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How Qurate aims to 'make retail human again,' CEO explains

Qurate Retail Group (QRTEA) –– the parent company of QVC and HSN –– beat fourth quarter earnings estimates on both the top and bottom lines. However, in a swiftly changing digital age, Qurate Retail, Inc. CEO David Rawlinson joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the company's ambition to "make retail human again".

Rawlinson observes that retail is at "a really special moment," with two main players: in-store retailers and online e-commerce. However, he notes that what distinguishes Qurate is its aim of "connecting humans to other humans" around products. As Qurate emphasizes restoring this bond, the company is seeing "real momentum" in its approach.

Rawlinson mentions Qurate has taken steps to attract Gen-Z, yet characterizes the company's "core customer" as a woman of 30 or older, engaged in her community and with "extraordinary amounts of discretionary time and extraordinary amounts of discretionary income."

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

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Editor's note: This article was written by Angel Smith

Video transcript

[AUDIO LOGO]

JULIE HYMAN: Qurate Retail, the parent company of QVC and HSN shopping channels, reporting earnings on Wednesday beating on the top and bottom lines. The company is saying it's in a transitional year and expects momentum for the rest of 2024.

But in a changing entertainment landscape, paired with warnings about more value-focused consumers, how does this affect business? Joining me now, Qurate Retail's CEO David Rawlinson, along with our own Brooke DiPalma. David, thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.

DAVID RAWLINSON: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

JULIE HYMAN: So, I want you to, for our viewers, to talk about the transition that you talked about on the call as well, and explain where you are in that cycle and what you expect for 2024.

DAVID RAWLINSON: Well, we're really excited about 2024. I think we are at a really special moment in retail. I think two people in retail are winning-- big buck stores that we don't think is a very human experience, concrete floors, self-checkout, and algorithms, e-commerce sites that are just trying to juice you for the next big purchase and get you to trade up.

What QVC and HSN and Frontgate and our other big world-class brands have always been about is connecting humans to other humans about products. We think that's the biggest opportunity in retail, is to make retail human again. And we think as we're starting to do that, we're starting to see success again in this business.

And so we're really excited. We think that was behind a lot of our bottom-line results in the third and fourth quarter. We grew our EBITDA, our measure of profitability for the first time in the third quarter and over two years.

We did it again in the fourth quarter. We grew new customers for the first time in about three years. We did it in the third quarter. We did it in the fourth quarter. We're just feeling real momentum in this business model right now.

BROOKE DIPALMA: Hi, David. It seems as though all of retail is really trying to tap into Gen Z. Of course, we saw in the launch of TikTok Shop at the end of 2023. Who is your key audience here? And how exactly are you reaching them?

DAVID RAWLINSON: Well, we are doing a lot of things for Gen Z. We actually just launched a app called Sune that's targeted at younger customers. But I have to tell you, I also really love our core customer. So our core customer is a woman in her 30s, 40s, 50s, often the pillar of her community. We often talk about the fact that America is graying, the Western world is graying, but everybody wants to get younger, although we're growing faster amounts of older customers than we are younger customers.

And so we actually think we have a beautiful opportunity, especially for mature women at a stage in life where they have extraordinary amounts of discretionary time and extraordinary amounts of discretionary income and wealth. And we think that connecting them to the celebrities they love, to hosts they love, to products that they can't find anywhere else. And this is, again, the biggest opportunity in retail.