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PEAK 2017 Post-Christmas updates from Shop Direct, Yours Clothing and more

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Retailers from Shop Direct to JD Sports and Yours Clothing this week reported rising online sales in their post-Christmas updates.

Shop Direct: strong mobile growth

Shop Direct said 73% of its online sales came via mobile during its pre-Christmas trading period, the seven weeks to December 22. That’s up by five percentage points from 68% at the same time last year, as total mobile sales grew by 18% year-on-year.

Overall, group sales from Shop Direct brands including, a Top50 retailer in IRUK Top500 research, (Top100), and grew by 6.3% over the period. Sales at Very were up by 16.8%, year-on-year, but revenue at Littlewoods were down by 12.6% in the context of a strategy of managed decline for the brand. Black Friday sales rose by 10.9% in the group’s promotional period of November 13 to November 28. That period also saw new use of a flexible structure that allowed it to make more than 350 live changes to the sites, while a new AWS infrastructure meant, said Shop Direct, that the group had 100% website availability throughout the period.

The retailer also introduced new product recommendations and focused on making product pages easier to navigate. It delivered 7.1m parcels during the period, and said that 28% of them were delivered to CollectPlus hubs – reflecting an 8% rise in click-and-collect since last year.

Outgoing group chief executive Alex Baldock said: “This was another record-breaking Christmas for Shop Direct, on the heels of 9% growth last year and 6% in 2015. Once again, Very was the star of the show, with sales outpacing the UK online retail market. Our early focus on mobile continues to pay off, as it heads towards three quarters of our sales.

“Our long-term investments in data and technology continued, with an easier and more tailored Christmas shopping experience for our customers, particularly on mobile devices.”

He added: “It’s been a privilege to lead this team and I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together; turning a dusty old catalogue retailer into a growing, profitable and innovative etailer. Derek [Harding, incoming interim CEO] is an outstanding leader, and as I hand him the reins I know that Shop Direct will continue to thrive.”

JD Sports Fashion: predicting higher profits

Top50 retailer JD Sports said it had enjoyed “material growth” in its online sales, while like-for-like store sales had risen by about 3% so far in the second half of its financial year (which ends on February 3). This, it said, was encouraging considering that there were strong comparative sales in each of the last three years and it now expected pre-tax profits would reach about £300m in its full-year.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill said: “I am delighted to report that we have maintained our positive performance from the first half of the year which continues to demonstrate the capability and strength of our highly differentiated multichannel proposition.”

Yours Clothing: record sales from online demand

Omnichannel plus size retailer Yours Clothing says it enjoyed record sales over the Christmas period as it continues its rapid growth.

Overall sales at the retailer, listed Top100 in IRUK Top500 research, were up by 24% in the seven weeks to January 7 compared to the same period in the previous year. This, said the retailer, was driven by online demand, with ecommerce sales up 42% year-on-year. Meanwhile, total UK retail store sales rose 16%. The retailer held back on discounting and gross margin improved by 3.4 percentage points.

Online international sales increased 100% year on year following the launch of additional country specific websites, including Germany and France, and digital marketing investment in 2017. The number of new ecommerce customers was up 22% during the period against the prior year.

Chief operating officer Resh Dorka said: “We’re delighted to celebrate a record trading period over the festive period. We continue to see increased customer demand, as our proposition of great fitting, excellent value, fashionable plus size clothing continues to resonate with both women and men around the world.

“We are excited about the year ahead as we look to deliver on our strategy to expand our physical and digital footprint in the UK and internationally, as well as broaden our product range.”

Dunelm: fast online growth

Top100 retailer Dunelm reported a 3.5% rise in in-store sales on a like-for-like basis – and a 36.8% rise in LFL online sales during the first half of its financial year, the 26 weeks to December 30. Overall like-for-like group sales came in at £469.3m in the first half, 6% up on last time, while total sales of £545.4m were up by 18.4% (total stores +25.0% and total online +33.1%).

In the second quarter alone, the 13 weeks to December 30, total LFL sales reached £255m, 3.4% up on the previous year, with online LFL sales of £26.2 up by 30.5%, and store LFL sales of £228.8m up by 1.1%.

Chairman Andy Harrison said: “Continuing rapid like-for-like online growth, of 36.8% in the first half, coupled with passing the first anniversary of the Worldstores acquisition, has helped our online sales grow to 16.0% of total sales in the first half (18.5% including Reserve and Collect). We are well on the way to becoming a genuine multi-channel retailer.

“Margins in our core Dunelm business have been maintained in the first half, although there has been a sales mix impact on margins from the Worldstores acquisition and the higher participation of seasonal and end of season products.

“Overall, we remain on track, with good sales growth and market share gains, offset by margin mix. We are well positioned to deliver good full-year profit growth, after a small reduction in the first half, largely due to the consolidation of Worldstores losses.”

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