Bensons for Beds has announced a return to operating profitability and confirmed that it saw two-year LFL growth of +10.5% in the key seven-week trading period ended 15 January, as its transformation programme continued to gather momentum.
Alongside publishing its accounts to September 2021, Bensons also confirmed strong sales and a return to operating profitability, which have been driven by new investment in its omnichannel strategy including a new ecommerce platform, further product innovation and accelerated store relocations and refurbishments.
The retailer saw its customer order book reach record levels in the autumn, followed by double-digit sales growth from the August bank holiday through to its post-Christmas peak. Bensons says that strong performance has continued into the new year, both in-store and online – currently, online sales are still enjoying strong double-digit LFL growth Yo2Y.
In December, Bensons opened eight new stores, including five relocations - part of 20 new openings over the previous 12 months, taking the total number of stores to 179.
Over the last six months, bensons also invested in: product, with innovations such as vegan-friendly, cleaner and greener models; people, through the creation of 42 new roles across the business, with a focus on building new digital capability, customer experience and manufacturing capability at its Huntingdon plant; stores, with the opening of 18 new and relocated stores, including eight new stores in the 15 days in December alone (around 35 new stores and relocations are planned for 2022, with 15 in the first half of the year, starting with Telford’s Forge Retail Park on 28th January); and supply – alongside investment in new machinery, Bensons has begun to re-engineer its supply chain as it sources more products in the UK.
In 2021, around 65% of the products sold by Bensons were manufactured in the UK, with approximately 50% made at its Huntingdon site alone.
For the five months to 30th September 2021, Bensons turned over £101.9m and delivered an operating profit of £1.6m – a step up from the 10-month trading period to 30th April 2021, when it generated revenue of £148.4m and an operating loss on continuing operations of £24.9m.
Ian Shepherd, who joined as a non-executive director in September 2020 and was appointed chairman in May 2021, comments: “We have made huge progress on our transformation plans, which are built around turning Bensons for Beds into a true omnichannel retailer.
“The business has worked hard to minimise disruption from the impact of Covid-19, on our colleagues and customers and on our supply chains. Navigating this period has been a huge challenge, and the board is grateful for the support of our suppliers, colleagues and shareholders.
“Though some macroeconomic uncertainty remains, the business is well positioned to push ahead with its transformation and to deliver the growth we have set for ourselves. The delivery in this period of a positive operating profit is a big step forward for the company.”
Mark Jackson, Bensons for Beds' chief executive, says: “I’m deeply thankful and grateful to colleagues right across the business for their hard work to transform Bensons into the retailer we know our customers want us to be. And while our return to profitability is an important milestone, it’s simply a consequence of doing the right thing by customers.
“Our transformation is not yet complete. In the year ahead we’ll keep focused on our customers, on how they want to shop with us – online and offline – and on making their experience as they invest in their sleep as easy as it can be.”