Revenues grew 3.5 per cent at TheWorks.co.uk, the Midlands-based multi-channel value retailer of gifts, arts, crafts, toys, books and stationery.
Preliminary results for the 52 weeks ended 26 April, released today, reveal revenues of £225 million, with growth both online and in stores, despite the significant impact of COVID-19 in the latter weeks of the financial year.
Gavin Peck, Chief Executive Officer of The Works, said: “Our performance this year demonstrates the resilience of our business and we are pleased to have delivered a creditable performance despite the challenging backdrop. I am incredibly proud of all colleagues for their relentless hard work over the last year and for their commitment and the can-do attitude they have shown during this challenging period.”
In that period the company saw positive like for like sales growth, driven by rapidly-evolving product ranges, its ninth successive record Christmas and new merchandising initiatives for core stationery and art ranges.
The company also saw 37 new stores opened during year, taking the total estate to 534 stores. However, fewer new stores openings are planned with the company concentrating on driving improvement and profitability across the existing estate. Countering this, TheWorks launched a new website and increased its online capacity to meet very strong demand during lockdown (sales increased more than three times on the equivalent period last year).
However, for the 17 weeks to 23 August 2020, total sales fell 26 per cent, but since stores began reopening from 15 June, performance has been well ahead of the Boards expectations with overall like for like sales increasing by 0.7 per cent in the 10 weeks to Sunday 23 August. While online performance remains strong with sales levels more than double last year’s in the same 10 weeks, store like for likes are currently tracking at a high single digit decline.
Gavin said: “Christmas was a turning point and this positive momentum continued in the following months supported by new products and merchandising initiatives launched during the year driving LFL sales growth. The improved trading performance was supported by the increased focus on cost management.
“The closure of our entire store estate in March had a significant impact on our business, however we responded to the crisis with agility and were ready to bounce back once safe to do so. Our decisive action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic enabled us to protect colleagues and customers, meet the significant increase in online demand, and minimise the financial impact. We are encouraged by the trading performance since lockdown lifted and will continue to focus on improving our online capacity and customer experience in stores under social distancing as we head into peak Christmas trading.
“The current uncertainty means that we are unable to provide specific guidance. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and remain agile ahead of our key trading period. Our performance during the COVID-19 pandemic shows our customer proposition is more relevant than ever and, despite the significant uncertainty that remains, the Board continues to believe that we have many exciting opportunities ahead of us that will enable us to deliver value for all of our stakeholders in the long-term.”