Very.co.uk saw the number of customer visit its site jump over the Christmas period

Very.co.uk saw the number of customer visit its site jump over the Christmas period

Multi-category online retailer Very.co.uk, which operates the Littlewoods brand, has recorded its best ever Christmas trading period supported by the company's new fulfilment centre, which processed 3.9m orders during the peak.

For the seven week period leading up to and including 25 December, the retailer increased retail sales by 25.2% year-on-year. Including Littlewoods, which is owned by The Very Group, group retail sales grew 18.1%.

Revenue, including financial services income, at Very increased 23.3% year-on-year, while overall group revenue grew 15.3% year-on-year to surpass GBP500m (US$679.4m) for the period for the first time.

The retailer recorded over 500,000 new customers in the period, up 25.5% year-on-year, while website visits were up 49.7%. Sales via the Very mobile app were up 33% year-on-year.

The company said it processed 3.9m orders – peaking at 265 orders per minute – through the group's new highly automated fulfilment centre, which launched in March 2020.

"We are delighted with Very's outstanding performance, which shows UK families were more determined than ever to celebrate this Christmas, despite all the challenges of 2020," said CEO Henry Birch.

"While the economic picture remains unpredictable, we have strong momentum as we begin the year. I believe our resilient, flexible and proven business model, which is online, multicategory and offers customers flexible payment options, will continue to help us thrive in 2021."

Alex Hardy, retail analyst at GlobalData, believes Very.co.uk's wide product range has been key to its performance throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and 'lockdown categories' have driven sales growth over the festive period.

"Very.co.uk has adapted to changing shopping habits throughout the pandemic, with sportswear being another winner for the retailer witnessing double digit growth, and this flexibility to adapt its marketing and product ranges to the latest trends such as athleisure has enabled the online pureplay to offset the decline in demand for more formalwear, with fashion and sports up 4.1% overall.

"Very.co.uk is well-positioned to succeed in the current climate. The retailer has been able to meet the increased demand due to its automated fulfillment centre, which opened in March 2020, indicating that with the monumental online shift in 2020, its past investment choices have been well-placed to support future growth. While attracting new customers during store closures has been easier, emphasis has also been placed on customer experience, with tailored product recommendations and targeted promotions on the Very.co.uk app (mobile app sales were up 33%). Such measures will drive impulse purchases and brand loyalty and will help to retain some of the 500,000 new customers from the seven-week period. The outlook remains favourable for The Very Group as it enters 2021, especially as it remains top of mind amid temporary store closures."