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DRL forecasts 50% sales rise

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Online kitchen appliances retailer DRL says it expects to see sales rise by close to 50% this year, following a strong first quarter.

The privately-owned online-only company forecasts sales of £250m in its current financial year, up from the sales of £170m it posted in the year to the end of March 2011. That represents a like-for-like rise of almost 50% and follows good sales since March. The company, currently recruiting 70 new staff to its 420-strong workforce, says 2011 is shaping up to be its best year ever.

DRL was founded in 2000 and operates kitchen appliance websites for brands including Boots, B&Q and Argos as well as its own-brand Appliances Online and Appliance Deals. It says a million unique visits were paid to its websites in June alone, while sales volumes average more than 2,500 appliances sold each day.

John Roberts, chief executive and founder of Appliances Online, said: “This is still a big market and it doesn’t have the best reputation when you buy appliances on the high street. That makes it easier to be better but we don’t stop there. Quite simply, we want it to be how buying an appliance should be, in every respect.”

To that end the company is investing in its marketing team, which has grown from four people in 2008 and is expected to number 60 by the end of the year. Between them they handle all areas from Google advertising to social media – the company claims more than 10,000 for its websites across Facebook and Twitter - and building a new web platform.

“I have never found anybody who cares about our business or our customers like we do,” said Roberts, “and so it makes sense to keep everything as close as possible wherever possible. That enables us to invest in our people so they can continue to deliver a better experience for our customers.”

If DRL's forecasts prove correct the company's online sales growth will outpace a lacklustre UK retail market where transactions appear to be migrating online fast. Today's ONS retail sales figures showed a 4% rise in the total value of sales in June, but non-store retailing, which includes internet sales, grew by a record 24.4% in volume. Internet sales now account for 9.9% of the UK retail market.

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