Upmarket supermarket chain Booths saw sales slip by 0.7 per cent with continued food deflation and flooding caused by Storm Desmond blamed for the fall.
The chain, which has stores in Settle, Ilkley and Ripon, said sales were hampered by the forced closure of two key stores following the catastrophic flooding in its heartland, with its Keswick store out of action for six months as a result of the storm.
It claimed that it would have recorded a modest increase in sales of 0.7 per cent, if it were not for the devastating effects of the flooding in the crucial Christmas trading period.
Underlying trading profits reduced from £3.1m to £2.6m as a result of the turbulent retail market and the costs associated with opening and supporting four new stores in one year.
The decline in bottom line profitability was driven by several one off items, notably £1.6m of restructuring costs, £1.4m of refinancing costs and a £6.7m non-cash impairment charge.
Chief executive Chris Dee said: “It remains a very challenging retail market, but as ever, when the going gets tough, Booths gets tougher. Booths has been a resilient business for 170 years, and very much remains so today.
“Our teams have coped admirably in a year of enormous operational change, we’ve closed stores, opened modern new stores, we’ve restructured our management teams and the business came together to rise to the challenges of delivering 2015 Christmas in the face of some of the worst flooding on record.”
Projected 2016 Christmas sales offer brighter news for Booths. The launch in early October of their eagerly anticipated ‘Great Northern Christmas Book’, shows early signs of success with a 30 per cent rise in Christmas pre-orders versus figures this time last year.