Friday 14 May 2021 7:33 am

The Works 'encouraged' by post-lockdown sales but warns of ongoing uncertainty

Arts and books retailer The Works said sales have been “very encouraging” since most of its stores reopened, but warned it is too early to judge whether the spike is due to pent up demand or “strong underlying performance”.

The high street chain said online sales have reduced since its branches reopened but that they still remain “significantly ahead” of pre-Covid levels.

It withheld profit guidance, saying that, while the level of uncertainty has reduced, a higher than normal degree remains “and is expected to persist for some time”.

However, The Works said it is “confident in the future prospects of the business”. 

Total sales in the year ended 2 May, which included 16 weeks of full store closures and eight weeks of partial closures, declined 19 per cent to £206.2m.

The impact of store closures was partially offset by soaring online sales, which grew 120.9 per cent during the period. 

Like-for-like store sales in the year were up six per cent, The Works said. 

Gavin Peck, chief executive of The Works, said: “Like many retailers, the last 12 months have been incredibly challenging for The Works, which has historically relied mainly on in-store sales. 

“Our business was severely impacted by successive lockdowns and forced closures of our entire store estate.

“Despite this, the period has highlighted the resilience of the business and our ability to both adapt our offer and leverage our multi-channel model. Since we couldn’t control store closures we focused on the things we could, keeping tight control of costs, optimising our operations and vastly improving our online offering.

“As a result, our financial position remained strong, online growth exceeded our expectations, and when stores re-opened we saw customer demand returning quickly to pre-Covid levels.”