Mild winter and new store openings drive Dunelm’s sales higher

Kasmira Jefford
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HOMEWARES retailer Dunelm yesterday reported a 9.9 per cent rise in third-quarter sales, as improved weather conditions, new store openings and investment in its online business helped boost trading.

The Leicester-based group, which sells everything from bedding to curtains, kitchenware and lighting at mostly out-of-town locations, said sales jumped to £195.4m in the 13 weeks to 29 March compared with £177.8m a year earlier.

Like-for-like sales rose five per cent thanks to strong trading in January as it benefited from a milder winter and the absence of any snow disruption.

The family-run business, which began life in 1979 as a market-stall business selling ready-made curtains, still has a relatively low profile despite owning 141 stores and having a market capitalisation of £2bn.

In December the group ran its first-ever advertising campaign as part of a £3m brand overhaul that also saw it drop “Mill” from its name and plans to step up its advertising campaign this year.

It has also invested heavily in its multi-channel business, expanding its spring catalogue and its Dunelm At Home concept – its consultation service where Dunelm staff go to shoppers’ homes.

Dunelm opened four new superstores in the quarter to take its total to 10 and said it was targeting 200 superstores in the medium term.

Chief executive Nick Wharton said: “With clear opportunities to further develop our in-store offer, to expand our store portfolio and to benefit from our exciting multi-channel and customer service initiatives, the board remains confident in the growth prospects for the business.”

Dunelm’s shares, which have risen 12 per cent since the beginning of the year, rose 3.55 per cent on the upbeat trading statement.