Close this search box.

How The Works is investing online and in-store to become ‘more than a retailer’ to its customers

Image courtesy of The Works

The Works wants to be “more than just a retailer” for shoppers who rather than “just buying a product” now look to “buy into a brand”. This means, says The Works chief executive Gavin Peck in half-year figures today, showing its customers “what they can ‘do’ – read, learn, create, and play – and empowering them to do it”. Its strategy is now to develop both its online and in-store channels around creating “deeper relationships with our customers and driving increased brand loyalty”.

To that end, it is improving the customer experience by widening the range and improving its fulfilment capability online, and, in-store, improving a store estate that Peck describes as “the lifeblood of our business and the main way that we interact with our customers”.

The update comes as The Works, a Top100 retailer in RXUK Top500 research, reports revenue of £116.1m in the 26 weeks to October 31 2021 . That’s 30.6% up from the £88.9m it reported a year earlier, and 17.9% ahead of two years earlier. Both ecommerce (+80.7%) and in-store sales (+7.3%) were ahead of two years ago on a like-for-like (LFL) basis that strips out the effect of store openings and closures, while LFL sales grew by 14.5% over the same period. The Works says lower visitor numbers in store were offset by higher average transaction values.

At the bottom line it reported a pre-tax loss of £1m, down from £4.3m a year earlier.

In the subsequent 11 weeks, to January 16 2022, LFL sales were 9% ahead of the same period two years ago, with store sales up by 0.6% and online sales by 71.9%. The business believes that some Christmas trade was brought forward into September and October, but says that sales in the week running up to Christmas were less affected than it had expected by the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The retailer says that, looking ahead, good trading performance is now expected to “more than offset significantly increased container freight costs,” enabling it to forecast full-year earnings of about £15m.

Gavin Peck chief executive of The Works, says: “Our performance in the first half shows that our improved customer proposition, clarified purpose and the successful execution of our strategy are delivering tangible results. We delivered a record Christmas, demonstrating the increasing appeal of our customers offer and despite uncertainty over the impact of Omicron and the ongoing supply chain challenges faced throughout our sector.

“This better-than-expected trading provides confidence that we will deliver an improved performance in FY22. We are now a much stronger business than we were two years ago and believe that delivering on our refocused strategy will have a transformational effect on our business.”

’More than a retailer’: developing new multichannel strategies

The Works is now focusing on improving both its online and its in-store customer experience as it develops a new kind of relationship with its customers.

In its half-year report, Peck says: “It is becoming increasingly apparent that consumers today don’t just want to buy a product, they want to buy into a brand with a clear purpose. We have been working hard to clarify our purpose and be more than just a retailer. For The Works this means inspiring our customers by showing them what they can ‘do’ – read learn, create and play – and inspiring them to do it.”

The retailer now aims to be a “better, not just bigger version of ourselves” as it invests across sales channels. Peck says: “We are focused on fulfilling our new purpose, improving our customer proposition, creating deeper relationships with our customers and driving increased brand loyalty.”


The retailer has expanded its fulfilment capacity in order to deliver higher sales during peak trading and offering what it says is a “better delivery promise than most of our competitors”, while also widening its range to sell goods such as paddling pools in the summer. It has also hired a new head of digital marketing as it looks to attract new customers to the site.

Now it is looking to further online growth by attract new customers, improving its online user experience in areas including navigation and “shopability”, and adding multichannel capabilities such as enabling shoppers to order online-only products in-store or improving its click and collect service. It aims to automate parts of its online fulfilment.


Peck says The Works’ store estate is “the lifeblood of our business and the main way we interact with our customers”. By the end of October 2021 it traded from 526 stores, following three openings, five closures and four relocations. It aims to open stores at a maximum rate of 10 a year, while also looking to reduce store rents. In-store improvements will include simplified and more focused store layouts, while a new store EPOS system, currently planned for 2023, will enable it to add functionality such as self-service in-store.

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on