Online retailers continued to benefit from the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions imposed in the run up to Christmas with The Hut Group and Very.co.uk both reporting strong trading.
The Hut Group (THG) had such an impressive quarter it beat revenues expectations – despite bosses already issuing an upgrade at the beginning of December.
Bosses said in the three months to December 31, sales jumped 51% to £558.7 million compared with a year earlier – beating expectations of a 40% to 45% rise announced on December 7. This itself was an upgrade on previous forecasts of between 16 and 25% rises.
The beauty division was particularly strong, with sales hitting £298.2 million in the quarter – a rise of 66.2%, while its nutrition sales were up 39.6% to £158.2 million.
The group, which owns brands including Glossybox and MyProtein, also revealed it added more than 3.5 million new active customers during the three months alone – meaning 10.7 million have joined during the year.
THG has grown rapidly in recent years by purchasing skincare and lifestyle brands, while also operating online platforms for other brands, and launched on the stock market four months ago.
Matthew Moulding, executive chairman and chief executive, said: “Following our successful listing on the London Stock Exchange in September 2020, we have accelerated our sales growth across all areas of the group, underpinned by record new customer numbers.
“We have also started reinvesting capital raised at IPO, including over £360 million in M&A (mergers and acquisitions), principally within the US beauty sector.
“Furthermore, we have also invested significantly in our people, creating 3,000 new jobs during 2020, largely within the UK, but also across our international operations.
“During 2020, we have made significant progress in commercialising our Ingenuity Platform, fast becoming a major global player in taking brands direct to consumers.”
Just three weeks ago, THG announced its biggest-ever takeover, snapping up US online skincare retailer Dermstore for 350 million dollars (£257.4 million) from US retailer Target.
At Very.co.uk, bosses boasted a 25.2% year-on-year rise in sales in the seven weeks up to Christmas Day, revealing its strongest festive period on record – processing 3.9 million orders with strong sales in homeware and electricals.
The company, owned by The Very Group which also operates Littlewoods.com, revealed it won 500,000 new customers – up 25.5% year-on-year, and enjoyed a record Black Friday period.
During the November 6 to December 2 promotional period – at a time when England was in its second national lockdown – sales were up 25.8%, it said.
The best-selling products included Apple Airpods, fleece pillows and Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers.
Including sales from Littlewoods.com – which were not split out by the company – group retail sales grew 18.1% during the seven weeks to December 25.