Shop Direct, the owner of Very.co.uk, Littlewoods.com and isme.com, has reported its first pre-tax profit in ten years.
In the year to 30 June 2013, the group made a pre-tax profit of £6.6 million compared to a loss of £57.7 million in the previous year. While group sales edged up 1% to £1.69 billion, Shop Direct’s newer brands Very.co.uk and Isme.com delivered an 18% increase in sales. This offset a combined drop of 7% at the group’s more established brands Littlewoods.com and KandCo.com.
Shop Direct said that 78% of sales were completed online during the year, up from 75% in 2012. In addition, 27% of all online sales were made on mobile devices with the figure rising to 38% for the first quarter of 2013/14. As a result, the number of printed catalogues distributed was more than halved during the year – to 4 million from 8.2 million in 2012.
The group’s best performing categories were electrical and seasonal products, driven by strong sales of tablets, computers, small domestic appliances, gifts and beauty products.
During the year, brand ambassador Fearne Cotton expanded her collection for Very.co.uk to include furniture and homewares while Myleene Klass added lingerie and swimwear to her clothing range.
The group also signed up Mark Wright as the face of Littlewoods own brand menswear range Goodsouls.
Shop Direct chief executive Alex Baldock said: “These results mark an important milestone in the journey of Shop Direct into a world class digital retailer. We’re delighted to report a positive pre-tax profit for the first time in 10 years, giving us a solid platform from which to move forward.
“We have a new level of ambition and have set out a clearly defined and disciplined strategy for the continued evolution of Shop Direct, with world class personalisation at the heart. Our new corporate brand reflects this sharp focus and our confidence in the continued digital development of the business.
“We occupy a unique position in the UK’s digital retail market by making good things easily accessible to more people, and are proud of the part we play in our customers’ lives. Our attention and energy are now fully focused on delivering a great Christmas for our customers as we enter the busiest and most important trading period of the year.”