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Victorian Plumbing founder says customer shift online during Covid-19 is here to stay

Shoppers looking for a new bathroom are now more likely to turn online. Image: Joe Gough/

Victorian Plumbing says it has strengthened its position as the UK’s largest online bathroom retailer in a year in which shoppers shifted online to do more of their shopping. Founder Mark Radcliffe says it’s now inevitable that customers will continue to spend over the internet in future. 

During the year the retailer used digital performance-based marketing to boost brand awareness to 64% in the year from 58% in 2020, and it sees further potential to expand its market since, according to Mintel figures, only 29% of UK sales of bathroom products and accessories currently take place online. 

Victorian Plumbing, ranked Top250 in RXUK Top500 research, today reports revenue of £268.8m in the year to September 30 – 29% up on the previous year. The rise came as total order numbers rose by 17% to 906,000 and average order values grew by 10% to £297, largely as a result of raising prices on its own-brand products, as customers raised their perception of their value in a market marked by high demand and tighter availability as a result of supply chain issues. 

Pre-tax profits of £19.7m were 17% down on the £23.7m reported a year earlier. Factors in this included rising supply chain costs, which rose by 19% to £138.3m as sales grew, reflecting the impact of Covid-19 on the supply chain, with rises in the costs of raw materials, transport and packaging. Victorian Plumbing also stocked up on inventory to ensure availability, spending an extra £9.4m on stock and also spending on temporary warehouse space. One-off costs included the retailer’s flotation on the London Stock Exchange, at a cost of £9.8m in fees. 

In the first two months of the current financial year, the retailer has seen sales stay broadly the same as last year – and 41% up on the previous year. 

Mark Radcliffe, founder and chief executive of Victorian Plumbing Group, says the last year has been a milestone one for the business. “Our distinctive brand and extensive choice of quality bathroom products have been key drivers in attracting consumers to our platform, whilst the strength of our supply chain and our investment in inventory means that the majority of our products have remained immediately available,” he says.

“Although the short-term outlook is difficult to predict as the world normalises from the events of the last two years, it is inevitable that consumer buying behaviour will continue to move online. As the UK’s largest online bathroom specialist retailer, Victorian Plumbing is uniquely placed to help consumers obtain exactly what they need for their dream bathroom. The board remains confident in the medium to long-term growth prospects for Victorian Plumbing.” 

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