The Very Group reports record full-year revenue and profit growth
The Very Group has reported a record full-year revenue driven by a surge in retail sales. The Merseyside-headquartered Group, which operates the Very and Littlewoods brands, recorded a group revenue growth of 13% to a record £2.32 billion in the 12 months to 3 July driven by a 24.9% jump in retail sales to £1.54 billion.
Group profit before tax of was up 68.8% at £81.7m (FY20: £48.4m), including exceptional items of £41.3m (FY20: £42.6m), helped by a strong performance from Very.co.uk and improved cost management.
Very.co.uk revenue was up 18.2% to £1.88bn, along with an increase in customers of 12% to 3.82m. This led to the number of group customers rising by 7.6% to 4.82m. Littlewoods Ireland also managed a strong performance, with retail sales up 21.7% to £101.5m.
The group reported sales growth across all Very categories, with electrical (38.9%) and home (26.7%) demonstrating the biggest growth. Fashion and sport were up 11.6%, with particular growth in children’s, women’s and men’s sportswear (up 67.7%, 50.1% and 24.3% respectively) and celebrity and designer clothing (up 69.5%), including its Michelle Keegan collaboration (up 25%).
During the year it added around 100 brands across all categories, including New Look, Never Fully Dressed, Citizens of Humanity, Free People, Cox & Cox and Koble.
Meanwhile app sales were up 45%, boosted by “a more personalised, intuitive app experience” including an AI-powered chatbot.
Despite a decrease in Very Pay platform's revenue by 8.6% to £359.6m "owing to higher levels of customer payments, reflecting enhanced credit decisioning and improved quality of underlying debtor book", the group finished the year with underlying operating cash flow of £245m.
Group CEO Henry Birch said in a statement: “I am pleased to report outstanding group performance, including record revenue, continued profit growth and strong cashflow generation.
“The current environment is not without challenge, but our pandemic experience has shown us that our multi-category offer, combining leading brands with our Very Pay platform, is relevant to an increasingly wide number of customers. We are in good shape to face any future uncertainty, and remain confident that we are well positioned to take advantage of a market and customer behaviour that is moving towards our model.”
The group also strengthened its executive team with former BBC technology director Matt Grest joining as their chief information officer. Robbie Feather, former CEO of Fenwick is lined up to join the business as retail managing director in late 2021. The group also launched an E&S board, chaired by Jacqui Humphries to enhance its environmental and social governance.
Along with its continued focus to net zero carbon from all UK operations, the group has joined the United Nation’s CFO Taskforce, which commits into the organisation’s Sustainable Development Goals.