Shop Direct Group
, which bought the Woolworths
brand last month, has seen a massive increase in online sales this year, chief executive Mark Newton-Jones has told the Financial Times
The mail order and internet retailer, which operates Littlewoods and acquired the Woolworths brand earlier this month, said yesterday it had already hit last year's figure of £60.9m of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the first nine months of the current financial year after a surge in online shopping.
Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive, told the Financial Times that the demise of high street homeware and furnishing chains in the run-up to Christmas had boosted his online business as consumers shifted their shopping online, helping to lift internet sales 50 per cent year-on-year since January 1. He now expects underlying profits to double to £120m in the year to April 2009.
However, acquisition and restructuring costs have hit the pre-tax line, with the group reporting a pre-tax loss of £26.6m in the year to April 30, up from a loss of £59.8m in the previous year.
Woolworths is due to return online in June, Newton-Jones told the FT, and will include the online return of an old favourite:
"There's so much affection for it and it's held in so much fondness," he said. "It's 100 years worth of history so there was a real shock that it had gone."
With the new site concentrating on children's clothing, family entertainment, music and video games, Woolworths' much-loved Pick 'n' Mix confectionery will also make a return as Click 'n' Mix.
Meanwhile, Ladybird, the children's wear brand it also bought last month, would be extended to furnishing.
But a host of other old Woolworths' favourites, from mops to ironing boards, will be ditched from the new virtual store.