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Studio Retail reports its biggest Black Friday yet – but PPI claims hit half-year profits

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Studio Retail Group reported its biggest Black Friday yet, with record online visits and parcel dispatches, as it said it was making progress towards becoming a digital-first value retailer in half-year results today.

Studio Retail is the new name for the Findel Group and reflects its repositioning around its value-retail brand Studio, which is ranked Top500 in IRUK Top500 research. It also operates the Ace brand. The retail group said group revenues of £228.1m in the 26 weeks to September 27 were flat on last year. Revenues from its continuing operations – it is selling its education division – were up slightly at £181.3m (+0.3%). Pre-tax profits of £13m were 12% up on last time – although pre-tax profits from continuing operations were 83% down at £2.6m, from £15.5m last time after putting an extra £7.9m aside to reflect additional PPI claims. These are set to be refunded in the second half of the year.

The business said it was making strategic progress towards its aim of becoming a digital-first retailer. Online accounted for 81% of sales during the first half – up from 72% last time – while the new Studio app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times.  

Chief executive Phil Maudsley said: “This has been another period of strategic progress as we strengthen our position a digital-first value retailer. We are pleased to have reported a strong increase in Adjusted PBT in the first half, followed in Q3 by a record sales performance from Studio during our peak seasonal trading period.

“We know that Studio’s customers look for value all year round, so we do not need to chase promotional trends to maintain our market position. In support of this approach, we look forward to further initiatives coming on stream next year to enhance our digital-led value offer

He aded: “The retail marketplace is undoubtedly challenging, but Studio’s unique position as a digital-first, value-focused retailer with an integrated credit option gives us great confidence for the future.”

Black Friday trading

The retailer said that it saw more customers waiting for Black Friday and for Christmas trading than in previous years. When it did arrive – after the end of its half-year – it said shoppers bought in record numbers. It saw 781,000 online sessions on Black Friday alone, with more than 100,000 parcels were sent out in a single day for the first time ever. Product sales over the last 11 weeks – the third quarter so far – were 10% up on the previous year. 

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