Northern grocer Booths reported 3.3% sales growth to £267.8m, and narrowed its trading losses by £1m to -£0.2m in the year ending 28 March 2020.
Accounting for comparable Easter periods and COVID-19 impacts, sales increased 0.2%.
Impact of COVID-19
The first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year saw significant reduction in footfall, which were outweighed by bigger basket spend. Booths customers have seen changes in-store including cafe closures and reduced range on counters. Its stores in popular tourist spots such as the Lake District have also experienced a dip in sales, alongside increased operating costs.
However, the company reports it is on track against a normalised pre-COVID plan, whilst it is cautious against predicting the overall effect of the virus on the present financial year, alongside a fragile economic backdrop.
Reporting strong Christmas trading in previous years, including its best-ever results in 2019/20, Booths will be looking to reassure shoppers on store safety, excellent service, and outstanding products as we enter the festive period this year.
B2B and online
Sales in the B2B channel grew over 70% to £5.8m, of which Amazon contributes a significant proportion.
Booths continues to innovate in the online channel, including a partnership with Deliveroo, trial of click & collect, and an increasing number of shoppers eligible to shop its fresh ranges through the roll-out of Amazon Fresh.
Booths' efforts on tightening cost control were hindered by COVID-19. however the grocer still managed to improve its position. Ongoing actions include a work force management program to offset the national living wage rate increases, should be fully in place by 2021.
Retaining the magic
Booths continues to invest in its estate, including two store refurbishments in Ulverston and Longton in the reporting period. Recent developments include a new partnership with confectionery brand Montezuma's, opening a chocolate and truffle counter in the Knutsford store.
The grocer attributes out-performance since lockdown to its ability to delight and inspire customers by buying, making and selling the best food and drink on offer. Its differentiated and high quality product range is likely to appeal to customers seeking inspiration as the spend more time eating at home through the pandemic period.
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