Bensons for Beds has confirmed that it was in a strong place to continue its transformation plans as sales bounced back following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
One year on from its refinancing deal, the nationwide bed and mattress retailer has reported significant pent-up demand from customers at its reopened 180-plus store network, and continued strong online sales.
Next week it will launch a major TV advertising campaign – its biggest since the end of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of so-called 'non-essential' stores.
Over the past three months since stores reopened, Bensons has seen "very strong" sales, with double-digit LFL growth compared to an undisrupted 2019. With good progress landing a number of its transformation initiatives, and a "very clear and focused strategy" led by a strengthened senior management team, the business says it is well placed for the future.
Bensons’ chief executive Mark Jackson says: “The pent-up demand we’ve seen since our stores reopened gives us the confidence to accelerate our transformation programme and build on the progress made over the past year.
“I appreciate the hard work of the team – everyone has had to work enormously hard to cope with the impact of the pandemic and the temporary closures, but we emerge from restrictions in a strengthened position. The shareholder investment last June has allowed us to revamp our website, begin reshaping our store portfolio and invest in product innovation, and we’ll step up the pace of change this year.”
Among the key developments are: the completion of store estate remodelling after becoming a standalone business independent of Harveys, moving Bensons onto the ground floor across the whole network; plans to relocate up to 11 stores to new premises, following the opening of new and relocated stores in Maidstone, Leeds, Macclesfield, Milton Keynes, Stockport and Crewe (last week, relocated Bensons stores opened in Paisley and Orpington, and this week sees a relocated store open in Southport);
having invested in a new ecommerce platform, Bensons is now well on the way to becoming an omnichannel retailer – an important focus for Bensons’ three-year strategy; renewed investment in marketing, beginning next week with a new £3m TV and print advertising campaign helping the nation get a better night’s sleep after 18 months of disruption; investment in product innovation, including a vegan-friendly Naturals mattress collection, and Airstream by Slumberland, a pocket-sprung mattress with layer of "luxury cleaner, greener" memory foam; investment in new machinery at its dedicated manufacturing plant in Huntingdon, including a Mammut VMK quilting machine which enables Bensons to make deeper, more luxurious mattresses;
the creation of new roles across the business to support transformation - including an additional 45 jobs at Huntingdon to fulfil orders to maintain industry-leading order lead times (to ensure no interruption to manufacturing, Bensons has also taken a lease on an additional warehouse in the town’s nearby Stukeley Meadows Industrial Estate; and, as sales have strengthened, Bensons has also invested in its central contact centre, helping build the customer service experience.
Bensons also today announced the recruitment of Nick Collard as its new chief commercial & digital officer. Nick joins from Holland & Barrett International, where he was chief customer and digital officer, and on the executive board. Over the past 15 years he has also held board roles at DFS Furniture and Morrisons, plus senior roles at Walgreens Boots Alliance.