Laura Ashley, Findel and Co-operative Group report on online sales
today reported growing internet sales during a year in which it started to deliver to new four international markets.
The fashion-to-home furnishings retailer today reported a 10.4% rise in ecommerce sales to £35.3m during its latest financial year. It said online transactions contributed 13.8% of total UK retail sales in the year, up from 12.5% at the same time last year and 12.3% of total group sales, up from 11.2% last time. That helped to make up for a decline in mail order sales.
During the year Laura Ashley also started to deliver ecommerce orders to Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The company said it had also closed seven stores, opening just one, as it looked to “realign” its stores in a programme that will also see smaller “new concept stores” open.
The update came as Laura Ashley reported a 0.3% rise in total group sales, to £285.9m in the year to January 28
from £285.0 at the same time last year. Like-for-like sales rose by 3.3%. However, UK sales were down by 0.6% to £255.0m. Pre-tax profits fell by 2.6% to £18.8m before exceptional items – after exceptionals they down by 23.7% to £18.4m, from £24.1m last time.
Chairman Tan Sri Dr KP Khoo said a strong first-half performance had been followed by a challenging autumn but that there was return to stronger trading towards the end of 2011, with like-for-like sales up by 10.9% in the first eight weeks of the current financial year, to March 24.
“Laura Ashley's success stems from its high-quality product offering and distinctive style which is based on the brand's rich design heritage and contemporary interpretations,” he said. “As we expand internationally, we are proud that over 40% of our sales is derived from products manufactured in the UK."
On the same day the Co-operative Group
reported that its E-Store, selling electricals, had seen a 16% rise in internet sales over the Christmas period, following the launch of a new-look website. However the sales over the year fell by 6.6% to £82.1m, from £87.9m last time. The company is also to pilot transactional kiosks in selected food stores in the second quarter of 2012.
The updates came as the company unveiled a 1% rise in sales to £13.3bn during the year to December 31, but a 5.8% fall in pre-tax profits to £373.0m. Chief executive Peter Marks said the results were “solid” given the “toughest economic backdrop I have seen in more than 40 years of business.” He added: "It is in times like these that a business shows its true colours; we have revealed ours by continuing to invest for the future - continuing the work that we have been doing over the past five years during which we have revitalised this business and set it up for the future, while doubling sales and doubling profits.”
Also on the same day Findel
, owner of online retailers including Express Gifts and Kitbag, said in a pre-close update
to the City that it expected group sales to be 1.1% up in its current financial year. Strong trading at Express Gifts, where sales are some 9% ahead of the previous year, had offset falling sales in its education supplies business, down by around 12%. Sales at Kitbag was running at around 1% down on the previous year, though it had won contracts with Aston Villa FC and to support the next two Ryder Cups.