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Very Group swings back to profit after demand jumps during lockdown

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·2-min read

Online retailer Very Group has swung back into profit after group sales surged above £2 billion for the first time.

The Liverpool-based group, which runs Very.co.uk and Littlewoods, saw sales soar after it was boosted by higher demand following the coronavirus lockdown in March.

Very Group said it saw sales growth of 34% over the quarter to the end of June as customers moved online following the mass closure of high street stores.

It was hit by around £23 million in Covid-related costs but said these were more than offset by the spike in sales.

The group posted a pre-tax profit of £48 million for the year to June 30, after it saw total revenues rise by 2.9% to £2.05 billion.

Sales have continued to grow into the current trading period, with the company delivering “double-digit” growth in recent months.

Chief executive Henry Birch told the PA news agency that the group is “not concerned” about the impact of the second wave and tighter lockdown restrictions as a result of the pandemic.

“We are moving towards the end of this year with confidence and momentum,” he said.

“Because of the actions we’ve already taken and trends we saw at the start of the pandemic, we are not concerned about the impact of further restrictive measures or a full lockdown situation.”

VerySkygate
The company said it is optimistic about Black Friday and Christmas sales (TheVeryGroup/PA)

Mr Birch also stressed that the company is optimistic about trading over Black Friday and the Christmas period despite potential disruption as a result of the pandemic.

He said: “Both Christmas and Black Friday have always important for us, particularly in gaining new customers, and Black Friday has been profitable for us historically.

“This year we are expecting both to be bigger than ever before.

“We think the cause of that will be because Covid is likely to impact people going to the high street and that people will be able get everything in one place from visiting our site, apart from food.”

Growth was driven by surging sales at Very.co.uk, which reported a 10.5% jump in retail sales to £1.23 billion for the period.

Meanwhile, the group said its Littlewoods brand saw sales continue decline, sliding by 8.8% to £460.9 million for the period.