Bensons for Beds today announced a return to operating profitability and confirmed it saw two-year like-for-like growth of 10.5 per cent in the key seven-week trading period ending 15 January, as its transformation programme continued to gather momentum.
Alongside publishing its accounts to September 2021, Bensons also confirmed its strong sales and return to operating profitability, has been driven by new investment in its omnichannel strategy, including a new e-commerce platform, further product innovation and accelerated store relocations and refurbishments.
Bensons is backed by Alteri, the specialist European retail sector investor, establishing Bensons as a standalone business in 2020. Bensons return to operating profitability has been enabled by the ongoing delivery of a transformation programme to build a platform for sustainable growth.
The nationwide bed and mattress retailer saw its customer order book reach record levels in the autumn followed by double digit sales growth from the August bank holiday through to its post-Christmas peak.
That strong performance has continued into the new year, both in-store and online.
Online sales are still in strong double digit like-for-like growth compared to 2019.
In December, Bensons opened eight new stores, including five relocations – part of 20 new openings over the previous 12 months, taking the total number of stores to 179.
Key highlights over the last six months include investment in:
- Product – with innovations such as a vegan-friendly Naturals Solutions by Slumberland mattress collection and Airstream by Slumberland, a pocket sprung mattress with layer of luxury cleaner, greener memory foam.
- In time for its peak trading period, Slumberland collections, Eco Solutions & Clima Latex were launched as part of a five-strong range of mattresses that benefit from Pro-Bio – Slumberland’s 100% natural protection from allergens, bacteria, and dust mites, keeping mattresses fresh and clean.
- People – the creating of 42 new roles right across the business with a specific focus on building new digital capability, customer experience and manufacturing capability at its Huntingdon plant.
- In November, the business launched new company values – Be devoted’, ‘Be driven’ and ‘Be Daring’ to underscore the transformation taking place across Bensons.
- Stores – the opening of 18 new and relocated stores to bring the best Bensons offer to customers, including the opening of eight new stores in 15 days in December alone.
- Around 35 new stores and relocations are planned for 2022, with 15 in the first half of the year as Bensons accelerates its growth plans. The first of these – in Telford’s Forge Retail Park – will open on 28 January.
- Supply – alongside investment in new machinery at its dedicated manufacturing plant in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Bensons has begun to re-engineer its supply chain as it sources more products in the UK to cut lead times for customers and protect them from global shipping delays.
- In 2021, around 65 per cent of all products sold by Bensons were manufactured in the UK with approximately 50 per cent at its Huntingdon site alone.
The positive update on sales during its peak trading period comes as Bensons for Beds retail and manufacturing businesses, posted results that underscored its progress.
For the five months to 30 September 2021, it turned over £101.9 million and delivered an operating profit of £1.6 million, a step-on from the 10-month trading period to 30 April 2021 where it generated revenue of £148.4 million and an operating loss on continuing operations of £24.9 million.
Ian Shepherd, who joined as a non-executive director in September 2020 and was appointed chairman in May 2021, said: “We have made huge progress on our transformation plans which are built around turning Bensons for Beds into a true omnichannel retailer.
“The business has worked hard to minimise disruption from the impact of COVID-19, on our colleagues and customers and on our supply chains. Navigating this period has been a huge challenge, and the board is grateful for the support of our suppliers, colleagues, and shareholders.
“Though some macroeconomic uncertainty remains, the business is well positioned to push ahead with its transformation and to deliver the growth we have set for ourselves. The delivery in this period of a positive operating profit, is a big step forward for the company.”
Mark Jackson, Bensons for Beds chief executive said: “I’m deeply thankful and grateful to colleagues right across the business for their hard work to transform Bensons into the retailer we know our customers want us to be.
“And while our return to profitability is an important milestone, it’s simply a consequence of doing the right thing by customers.
“Our transformation is not yet complete. In the year ahead we’ll keep focused on our customers, on how they want to shop with us – online and offline – and on making their experience as they invest in their sleep, as easy as it can be.”
Over the course of the coming weeks Bensons will file accounts at Companies House to align its various operations to a 30 September year-end.