DFS notched up EBITDA ahead 4.9% to £86m in the year to July 27, when sales advanced 7.4% to £670.8m. Retail Week speaks to chief executive Ian Filby.
RW: It’s a strong set of results. How do you feel about the performance?
IF: We’re very satisfied with the year. It’s still a tough environment but we’re confident we’ve gained market share.
The data says the market has been down over the last two and a half years by about £500m. In that same period we’ve clearly driven sales.
Can you give a like-for-like number?
We don’t give that number but we have been enjoying a period of prolonged like-for-like growth.
What drove the growth?
It’s down to a multitude of things, such as our commitment to property expansion. We said we’d do 24 [store openings] by July 2013 and we’ve exceeded that by four. The numbers the stores have been doing have been bang on our expectations. We’ve exploited the weak property market. We’ve also invested in the web, strengthening it over the year. It’s much more inspirational for the consumer. We launched an app last year and we’ve had well over 100,000 downloads.
The web in our business is all about enhancing the end to end shopping experience and we continue to take it to new levels in our sector.
Also, having a style of advertising that appeals to women [helped drive growth]. We’ve made it more feminine and it’s broadened our appeal. Our Country Living brand is going from strength to strength and we’re rolling out French Connection. We’ve also retrained all the store teams and sales guys to an even higher level.
You have introduced more aspirational ranges, has you average transactional value gone up?
We have significantly reduced the entry level price points of our range. We’ve stretched it at both ends. If anything it [the average transactional value] has drifted down a bit.
You have opened your second store in Ireland. What are your plans for the country and are conditions tough there?
We’re really pleased with the impact we’ve made. We plan to extend the footprint there this year. The market is very tough. But if you come in as a new entrant you can take advantage of good property deals. Irish consumers have responded well to the value proposition and shopping experience.
Are you worried that sales since year end slowed in the hot weather?
It’s not concerning me. Look at Dunelm and Carpetright [both recently reported declining sales due to hot weather].
Do you believe a recovery is on the horizon?
My view is one could envisage a slow but not dramatic recovery. I think people are perhaps calling it a little early. I think it will kick in next spring or summer, and even then it will be modest.