How Bettys and Taylors grew its sales in 2020 despite lockdown challenge

Bettys and Taylors Group grew its sales during 2020 despite its tearooms being closed or seeing restricted opening conditions, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

The family-owned business grew its sales by two per cent to £232.9m in the year ending October 31, 2020, with online sales having soared during lockdown.

The group said its performance was underpinned by strong growth for Yorkshire Tea, Taylors of Harrogate Coffee and Bettys online mail order service, with Yorkshire Tea in particular growing ahead of competitors and cementing its position as the number one tea brand in the market in terms of value, with an annual value share of 31.1 per cent, up from 28.8 per cent in 2019.

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Despite all six of its tearooms being closed for months, the group paid all of its 1,545 staff in full during the periods of closure and did not take advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.

Betty's tearooms were closed for a great deal of last year.
Betty's tearooms were closed for a great deal of last year.

However, the economic and social turmoil did result in a slip in profitability, with total operating profit having fallen by £1m to £14.9m.

Group finance & resources director, Paul Cogan, said: “We started our 2020 financial year in an optimistic mood. We’d recently celebrated our centenary and we were investing in strengthening our business for the future. Little did we imagine that the first year of our second century of trade was set to become one of the most challenging years in our history.

“Like most other businesses, we’ve faced considerable disruption throughout the pandemic – in particular, the full closure of our Bettys branches for four months during our 2020 financial year.

“We feel very fortunate to have achieved what can only be described as an exceptional performance in the most unusual of years.”

Demand for products from online soared.

2020 saw Bettys & Taylor’s launch a new speciality brew – Yorkshire Tea Toast & Jam – plus growing popularity for its coffee bags, designed to cut down on plastic usage.

The group also invested £484,000 – both financial and in kind – in charitable and community activities in the UK, and a further £1,423,075 into livelihood, social and environmental initiatives to support the long-term sustainability of its tea and coffee supply chain.

“The pandemic has affected every area of our business and we’ve had to be agile to overcome daily challenges,” said Mr Cogan.

“We’ve been incredibly fortunate that our customers found us a reassuring presence during a time of turmoil and we’re hugely appreciative of their support, as well as the commitment and creativity of our people.

“Our teams pulled together to support each other, implement new ways of operating and serving our customers, with many people moving to new roles to keep our business going.”