Price cuts and promotions helped to lift sales at online trader Express Gifts by 18% in the first half of its financial year compared to the same time last year.
In an interim management statement for the 26 weeks to September 28, parent company Findel , whose business includes a home shopping group, said that its investment in “keener pricing and promotions” had brought lower profit margins in the business, which sells through catalogues and online through Studio, Ace, and Health and Home Shopping. Ultimately, however, it delivered higher profits. “As we move into the peak Christmas period, Express Gifts is well positioned for further growth, although the rate of growth may slow as comparative periods are stronger,” it said in a statement. It said this growth in sales had led to the company drawing down more than £9m in loans to meet higher order levels, but that debt was lower at the end of September than a year earlier.
At fellow retailer Kitbag , which trades both online and through shops, sales grew by 11.1% in the first half.
The online growth helped to lift group sales during the first half by 7.9% on last year, along with a turnaround in its education supplies business and a 13.2% lift in its healthcare business. Findel, which is currently going through a three-year turnaround programme, said it would deliver an operating profit. But it remained cautious for the future.
“Whilst the peak sales periods for the group are still to come and on-going pressure on spending causes us to remain cautious, we believe we are well placed to continue to deliver on our turnaround plans,” its statement said.