ScS today showed the huge swings lockdown brought to its business as it gave early sight of its full-year figures in a trading update.
The sofas and upholstered furniture retailer, ranked Top500 in RXUK Top500 research showed that orders dropped by 92.5% in the nine weeks that its shops were closed during lockdown, compared to the same time last year. But in the following nine weeks – the last of its financial year to July 25 – orders rose by 92.2%. Overall, orders over the year were down by 5.9% compared to the previous year, with sales in the first, pre-lockdown, 34 weeks of the year down by 4.2%.
The retailer said that it had seen a challenging autumn that had started to improve ahead of lockdown, with strong growth in orders in the first seven weeks of its second half – between late January and mid-March. But its stores closed for coronavirus lockdown on March 23 and while online orders rose during the lockdown period, overall sales were down year-on-year.
“Encouragingly,” the retailer said in today’s trading update for the year to July 25, “post‐lockdown trading has been very strong both in‐store and online, with group order intake increasing 92.2% when compared to the same period in the prior year. This reflects pent-up demand, which has been supported by our well executed re‐opening plans, our continued focus on value and customer service, and our increased investment in targeted marketing over the last two months.”
It said that delivered sales for the 52 weeks to July 25 were £268m, down from £333m the previous year. The reduction reflected the closure from late March to late May of its distribution network and its manufacturing partners’ facilities.
“As our furniture products are made to order, and normally have lead times ranging from five to 13 weeks, the recent strong order intake performance means the group’s opening order book for the new financial year is significantly higher than in the previous year,” it said. “The majority of these orders will be delivered in the first quarter of the next financial year.”
The retailer said it was encouraged by its recent trading performance, and that it had £82.3m cash on the balance sheet, up from £57.7m a year earlier. But it said it was too early to give any forecasts for the coming weeks and months.