Bensons for Beds reports that LFL sales were up +7% YoY in the three months to the end of December, driven by investment in stores and online, and following leadership changes made in the summer.
The business says it also made a positive start to its peak trading period, starting on Boxing Day, with sales continuing in line with the trends seen in the Christmas quarter.
Across the quarter, Bensons saw +41% growth in online sales, with digital transactions now running at double pre-pandemic levels.
The quarter also saw an "encouraging" early performance from eve Sleep, which Bensons acquired in October. Bensons relaunched the evesleep.co.uk website just two weeks after acquiring the brand, in time for the peak sales season. The relaunch included its six bestselling mattress ranges, which accounted for the majority of eve Sleep sales prior to the acquisition.
In August 2022, Bensons secured additional funding from investor Alteri to drive its growth strategy and transformation plans through investment in stores and digital developments.
During the year, it made a series of changes to its senior leadership team, including the appointment of Nick Collard as CEO in June.
Store sales growth was supported by higher transaction values, compensating for weaker footfall in a tough economic market. Following the opening and relocation of 18 stores in the previous 12 months, Bensons was trading from 168 stores by the end of 2022. It has set out its goal of growing the network to 180-190 stores over the next two years.
Investment in expanding and updating its store estate included December’s relocation of its store in Romford, Greater London, returning to Cannock in Staffordshire and a refit of its Cardiff Gate Retail Park store.
Bensons' +41% growth in digital sales, against strong comparatives, reflects a major investment in digital infrastructure and talent. During 2022, Bensons’ continued investment in its digital capability included the roll-out of a new customer data platform across digital and physical channels, to improve conversion and customer acquisition. There have also been significant developments in Bensons' overall platform to enhance performance and improve customers’ pre-purchase experience.
Bensons is investing significantly to build a portfolio of brands, the majority produced in-house at its own manufacturing centre in Cambridgeshire. The portfolio includes Slumberland, the new Simply by Bensons value range, and heritage Staples & Co brand and Artisan Collection. As well as its exclusive in-house brands, in August Bensons also it unveiled its first collection of luxury mattresses from Hypnos.
The Alteri investment is helping to enhance Bensons' logistics network, including distribution centres and its Huntingdon manufacturing site, at a time when the supply chain has faced interruption and delays to supplies from Europe and the Far East and significant inflation in materials costs.
Nick Collard comments: “Our performance over the quarter provides a good indication that our investments across the business are beginning to bear fruit. We have made big steps towards our goal of becoming a market-leading omnichannel retailer, reflected in the rise in sales at an important time of the year. Although we expect the market to remain challenging, we remain well placed to navigate the year ahead.
“I’d like to thank the dedication and hard work of all our colleagues as we continue to transform the business as we invest online, in stores and in our ranges.”