The business, whose chairman is former Huddersfield Town owner and Card Factory founder Dean Hoyle, reported a 121 per cent boom in online sales over the past year, however it was unable to make up for its shops, which have been closed for more than a third of the time.
For 16 of the 53 weeks to the start of May all of The Works’ hobby shops were closed due to lockdowns, and more than 75 per cent of its estate was forced to shut for an additional eight weeks.
“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,” said chief executive Gavin Peck.
Since the stores reopened, online sales have reduced, but they are still “significantly ahead” of their pre-Covid levels, The Works said.
Total sales dipped 19 per cent to £206.2m in the period, driven purely by the physical shops.
But when the shops were open they performed well. Like-for-like shop sales grew six per cent over the year.
It is still too early to say whether this is a sign that The Works’ 527 shops are performing well, or if they just saw a bounce because of pent-up demand.
The company said that it sticks to the forecast that it issued in January when the latest round of lockdowns were announced.
A majority of the shops have now reopened, with those in the Republic of Ireland still closed until Monday.
“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,” Mr Peck said.
“As a result, our financial position remained strong, online growth exceeded our expectations, and when stores reopened we saw customer demand returning quickly to pre-Covid levels.”
Mr Hoyle became a significant shareholder in The Works in 2015 after making a sizeable cash investment in the business.
It was Hoyle’s first big role since the sale of Card Factory in 2010.
The low-profile entrepreneur built the cards retailer into a £50m-profit business in 12 years.
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