The UK retail sector might be facing a washout this summer but one Burnley company is thriving as sales hot up.
Burnley based Original Factory Shop is bucking the retail trend by reporting a 12% rise in overall sales for its first quarter. Growth was fuelled by eight new branches and the launch of an in-store catalogue promoting online sales.
The retailer, which focuses on high streets in small towns, opened three outlets in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland, one in Abergele, north Wales, and ones in Saltash, Cornwall, and Hornsea, east Yorkshire, in the three months to July 1, taking its total number of shops to 180. The Original Factory Shop plans to open a further seven during 2012. Five branches have been refurbished, with a further 10 in line for revamps before the crucial Christmas trading period.
Like-for-like revenues grew 5.5 per cent in the period. Underlying pre-tax profits were 20 per cent ahead. Among its best-selling lines in the first quarter were gardening goods, toys, fashion and footwear, homewares and electricals.
Chief executive Angela Spindler said she expects continued growth for the rest of the year, adding: “We are swimming upstream strategically and bucking the trend by opening stores and trading strongly on Britain’s high streets.
“We know our customers well, they still enjoy face-to-face interaction, the convenience of compelling local stores and want to save time and money shopping on their local high street.”
She said she sees scope for 450 stores over the next few years.
The news comes as other High Street firms face a difficult summer hampered by persistent rain.
DIY chain B&Q is expected to reveal the impact of Britain’s wash-out summer weather when parent firm Kingfisher updates on trading next week. B&Q was hit hard by the wet weather over Easter as homeowners put DIY and gardening projects on hold, posting a 12 per cent slide in sales. Whilst Panmure Gordon analyst Philip Dorgan predicts the wet weather in Kingfisher’s first half will leave interim profits down 4.8 per cent to £417m.
The Original Factory Shop, which employs 2,600 staff, is backed by Duke Street Capital, which invested in December 2007 when it supported a £69m secondary management buyout.