Major retailer benefits from surge in fishing participation
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Angling Direct, the largest fishing tackle retailer in the UK, has benefited from the surge in angling participation following the easing of restrictions imposed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting a revenue increase of 95% between mid-June and July.
Delivering its results for the first half of the year, the group posted a 21% increase in sales to £32.1m despite all its retail stores being closed for nearly three months.
The company’s web distribution centre was able to safely operate during lockdown by drawing on existing stock levels as well as inventory held in closed retail stores. Since restrictions were lifted and all stores safely re-opened on June 15th, sales across all channels have continued to grow strongly, exhibiting growth between June 15th and July 31st of 95%.
Online sales in the period grew by 43% to £17.9m (H1 2020: £12.5m), which alongside continued momentum in the UK, reflected further progression of the company’s native language international web platforms. Sales to Germany grew by 33%, France 62% and the Netherlands 81%.
As the company continues to focus on expanding more profitable web channels, other international sales, eBay and insurance sales decreased by £0.8m, 36% in total. The number of unique visitors to the company’s UK website increased by 1.3m in the period to 3.7m, with over 70,000 new customers completing a purchase.
Total store sales in the period increased 1.6% to £14.2m (H1 2020: £14m). Like-for-like (L4L) store sales were down by 23% for the period, as a consequence of the unavoidable impact of store closures. However, this has recovered strongly in the period since re-opening, with LFL growth of 75% from June 15th to the end of July.
Working in accordance with lockdown restrictions, Angling Direct opened three new stores in the period in Warrington, Bristol and Northampton, contributing £0.9m to sales.
Due to the strength of trading, associated cash conversion and working capital timing, the company’s cash position at the half year has grown strongly to £21m. In the period it raised £5.5m (gross) from a placing of new ordinary shares and arranged a £2.5m short-term credit facility that remains undrawn.
Angling Direct said that despite significant management time being invested in dealing with the unique challenges presented by COVID-19, the Board remained focused on delivering its long-term strategy of profitable growth and made good progress in the key areas of developing margin, increasing own brand sales penetration, improving working capital and leveraging efficiencies from previous supply chain and store investments.
Looking ahead, the Board says that it is very well placed within its market to benefit from ‘staycations’ over the summer months, as well as heightened interest in angling as customers seek to take advantage of its numerous wellbeing benefits.
It said: “The impact of COVID-19 has created an exceptional sales period, with pent-up demand certainly experienced as a consequence of fisheries being closed for almost two months. Whilst the extent to which some of the exceptional trends will continue longer-term is not yet clear, with no further COVID-19 restrictions, the Board is expecting sales to begin reverting to more normal trading patterns during the remainder of the year. The strong balance sheet means the company is well positioned to withstand any further challenges, whilst also continuing to invest in key growth areas.”