In accounts submitted to Companies House, Costco UK has recorded turnover of £2,545m for the year to September 2018. This is up an estimated 9.9% on an equivalent 52-week basis with 2017. Profitablility improved with gross margin for the year edging up to 2.8% from 2.7%.
Fuel a key driver
With two further fuel forecourt sites added to existing warehouses (Edinburgh and Glasgow) in the year (bringing the total to 13), fuel sales provided a major incremental component of performance. Costco estimates that two thirds of the total growth in the year derived from fuel and the business plans to continue the roll-out of forecourt to the majority of its sites in the medium to the longer term. Since year-end the fourteenth has already been opened at Leicester.
Warehouse number 29 opening in July
With its most recent opening (Wembley) all of three years ago, Costco's rate of new site opening has slowed notably in recent years. It will open its 29th warehouse at Stevenage in Hertfordshire within the next month, but further developments beyond that are presently unclear. A site planned for development at High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire has now been cancelled, and the company states in its accounts that 'The short term focus of our strategy is to continue growing our business profitably through existing warehouses.'
Online still growing quickly
Turnover at Costco's online operation in the UK reach £75.5m in 2017/18, up 14.4% on the year. Though still representing less than 3% of the total Costco business, this remains a significant opportunity for future growth, and Costco continues to position the online offer as something complementary to the warehouse ranges, with many of its products not available in-store.