The Fragrance Shop reports robust festive performance

The Fragrance Shop, the UK’s leading independent fragrance retailer, today confirmed robust Christmas trading that underscored the ongoing transformation of its business into ‘phygital’ retailer – a high-growth digital business integrated into a strong physical high street network.

In the seven weeks to 4 January 2020, sales on continuing activities at the group rose by 1.2%, online revenue rose by 17% and overall like-for-like sales were positive, despite deep discounting at competitors in response to declining high street footfall.

The Fragrance Shop’s festive performance underlined the increasing attraction of retailers that can successfully integrate an online and offline offer into a seamless experience for customers.

Reflecting a successful and increasingly popular Black Friday period, ‘click and collect’ orders at The Fragrance Shop rose 40% over the period. It also successfully traded three pop-up “sniff bars” in the run-up to Christmas, which combine retail and digital in an immersive and interactive customer experience.

Increasing trust in The Fragrance Shop’s digital offer is also giving customers the confidence to leave their online shopping much closer to Christmas. That confidence was helped by the successful integration of its three brands – Scent Addict, Indulge Beauty and The Fragrance Shop – onto a new digital platform that’s helped to drive an enhanced customer experience.

Strong collaborations with brand partners helped drive sales with unique offers for customers which had strong value messages. Customers actively bought into luxury this Christmas with Chanel and Dior performing very well and Sauvage maintaining its position as the favourite brand bought by Fragrance Shop customers over the holidays.

The Fragrance Shop’s robust festive trading builds on the trends highlighted in the release of its full financial year numbers which were also released this month.

For the full year to March 2019, the group saw good progress in a tough year for retailers with consolidated group sales up 2.6% to £124.7m.  Online sales grew by 17% per cent during the year.

EBITDA was 5.5% lower than the prior year at £15.5m and net profit £9.6m, 5.2% lower than FY 2018 – a robust performance in the face of kamikaze discounting at distressed retailers that made the market acutely competitive, rising wage costs and increasing rates bills.

Despite the closure of its House of Fraser concessions in the final quarter of FY2019, The Fragrance Shop opened 10 new stores in that financial year and to date, has opened six new stores in the current financial year.

“The market is tough and competition for fewer high street customers is undoubtedly fierce,” said chief executive Sanjay Vadera.

“But while we were sad to say goodbye to our House of Fraser concessions in January 2019, I’m proud to lead a retail business that can say it didn’t close a single high street shop during the calendar year and continued to grow online and offline. 

“We’ve opened 15 stores over the last 18 months because it’s clear the winners in retail will be those that can successfully integrate their digital and physical businesses to look after a customer that wants to pick and mix between the two.

“Our robust full year and Christmas trading, delivering growth in a fragrance and beauty market that has shrunk in 2019, is testament to our obsession with giving our customers the quality, service, experience and products at the best prices across all our channels.

“And while we will continue to focus on tight cost controls, we will continue to invest in our supplier partnerships that help us deliver the innovation we know our fragrance and beauty customer wants.”

The Fragrance Shop continued its active support for children’s charities during the year and has now raised £1.3m through its Spray A Little Happiness foundation and point-of-sale partnership with Pennies.