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Maplin puts its faith in a multichannel model, after its strongest online sales day yet

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Maplin today made its case for a multichannel approach to selling technology products as it reported a small full-year rise in revenue, and a small fall in profits – and its strongest online sales day yet on Black Friday.

“I believe that multichannel will ultimately win out over online only models, with the Maplin full service and expertise our unique selling points for the majority of consumers who want the benefits that technology offers but are uncertain how to best harness them," said Maplin chief executive Oliver Meakin.

The technology and smart home specialist, a Top100 retailer in IRUK Top500 research, reported revenue of £236m in the year to March 18, up by 0.5% on the same time last year. Like-for-like sales were up by 0.3%. Sales of Smart Home products were 161% up on last time, while earnings before interest, tax and asset writedowns came in at £12.3m, down from £13.2m the previous year.

Black Friday was, said Maplin, its biggest-ever online trading day, with smart home hubs, speakers, security and bulbs all big sellers, alongside ride-on toys and drones. Sales during the day were up by 5% year-on-year, with stores seeing a rise in sales as well as online. It said that Black Friday was "a positive indicator" for its Christmas trade.

The retailer said that 2017 marked the start of a "multi-year" investment programme in Maplin's 2020 vision, and that profits were down on last year because of "substantial investment" across the business. Those included improvements to its digital infrastructure, followed by a new consumer website after the year-end, as well as a pilot of its 'store of the future' in Cambridge. The retailer laid down foundations for a connected services offering, and focused on smart products, introducing a new interactive format in 130 larger stores featuring proudcts as it looked to "update and broaden the appeal of the brand for today's consumers".

Meakin said: “We are confident that Maplin has a winning strategy and the financial flexibility to navigate what is a challenging retail backdrop and to fully realise the opportunity that our leadership in Smart Home presents. We have reenergised the business and laid the foundations of the new strategy, which focuses on providing customers with expert advice and installation, to be delivered across a seamless, modern multichannel offering. Early results are very encouraging with sales of Smart Home products up 161%."

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