Homeware retailers were deemed ‘non-essential’ in the November and the current lockdowns, although they were trading during previous closures.
All but one of the FTSE 250 group’s 174 stores are shuttered, pushing it into “modest” weekly losses, and it’s not clear when they will reopen.
Following a strong half-year performance, the cushions and towels seller resumed dividends with an interim payout of 12p per share.
In the 26 weeks to December 26, sales surged 23% to £719mln, with profit before tax up 34% to £112mln after repaying £14mln to the government for the furlough scheme. The prior year’s £67mln debt turned into £140mln net cash at the end of the period.
Digital sales rocketed 111% while the business as a whole benefitted from increased demand for homewares as consumers turned their attention to home improvements during the pandemic.