ScS today reported record levels of orders for the first half of its financial year, after learning during the first lockdown how both its store customers and its online-only customers want to buy from it.
The sofas-to-flooring retailer’s stand-out performance came in a half-year in which online sales grew by 81.3% to £17.7m, up from £9.8m a year earlier. In the first seven weeks of the second half of the year, online orders are 157.5% ahead of the same time last year.
Despite stores being closed for large parts of the autumn and winter sales period, orders on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store openings and closures were only 9.1% down on last time. In the first seven weeks of the second half-however, they are down by 87.2% – and in the 33 weeks to March 13, orders are 23.8% down on the previous year.
ScS revenues across all channels grew to £173.9m in the 26 weeks to January 23, 14.4% up on the same period last year, while pre-tax profits of £17.7m are up from a loss of £0.6m in its previous financial year.
ScS chief executive David Knight says in his final results statement before handing over to incoming CEO Steve Carson that while the business is delighted with the strong first-half results, it is hard to make predictions about its future outlook.
He says: “With consumer confidence and the economic environment remaining uncertain, it is difficult to provide clarity on the group’s outlook for the weeks and months ahead. However, we remain cautiously optimistic as recent government announcements have provided further clarity on the anticipated reopening of our stores. The business continues to adapt and respond to trading conditions, with increased focus on the development of our digital channels. We are confident that our underlying priority of providing an excellent customer experience with outstanding value, quality and choice, will continue to prove successful.”
ScS, a Top350 retailer in RXUK Top500 research, says the online sales experience is now “more important than ever” and during the first half of the year, the retailer launched a new website that makes it easier for shoppers to browse on their phones and tablets and used its new MyScSLive video platform to talk to customers in their homes.
The retailer says that it learned useful lessons from an enforced period of online-only sales in the first lockdown. Its core store customers waited until shops reopened before buying in order to choose based on tactile factors. But insights from its online-only customers have spurred the launch of an online-only range that has proved successful since its launch.
The retailer has also introduced measures to make buying a sofa more convenient, including zero touch finance that removes the need to complete a credit application over the phone, and the launch of the MyScSLive video platform for customers who want to use it to talk to a member of staff in-store for product demonstrations and explanations of product options.
Looking ahead, the retailer says it will continue to invest in digital channels, and adds: “We are confident that our underlying priority of providing an excellent customer experience with outstanding value, quality and choice, will continue to prove successful.”