What can investors learn from how companies are discussed in social media? How can social media data be used in risk management? As House of Fraser becomes the latest casualty on the high street, we analyse social media reactions in the twelve months before the company's move into administration.

I was once asked by an investment fund if social media can offer any clues to the outlook for retailers and consumer brands. It’s an interesting line of enquiry, and one which raises several more questions about how we interpret what people say to each other in social media and what signals we should be looking for. Recently the UK high street suffered another major casualty with the collapse of House of Fraser, the department stores group now subject to a rescue offer from Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct. Judging by the steady decline in the value of House

of Fraser debt over the past twelve months, investors in the company's bonds had a fairly good idea that all was not well; senior management changes, expensive rents and the chain’s failure to fully embrace online all contributed to a loss of confidence. But what about customer confidence? In amongst the many articles written about House of Fraser in the year before administration, very few commentators thought to ask what customers were thinking. So let’s track back over the past 12 months. Were there signals in social media that customers were becoming dissatisfied? They say ‘retail is detail’. Customers are… read more »