Rent-to-own electricals and furniture retailer BrightHouse is looking forward to its best Christmas for three years after revealing another strong trading performance in its first half.
In the six months to September 30, EBITDA shot up 16.4% to £17m while revenue increased 15.6% to £109.4m and like-for-likes surged 10.7% .
Chief executive Leo McKee said the retailer continued to benefit from consumers trading down in the downturn. “We’re seeing some of that,” said McKee. “There’s more of a general awareness of BrightHouse. We’re seeing a wider demographic in our new stores, particularly in market towns outside the M25.
“We think Christmas is likely to be the best for three years. 2007 was strong, 2008 was a disaster for UK retailing and 2009 was a bit better. After two dire Christmases the feelings are more positive.
“Consumers are looking to be prudent. They want the best deals, they want price, but they also want to give kids a good Christmas.”
BrightHouse expects games consoles, smartphones and flat-screen TVs to be big sellers over the festive period. McKee said the retailer had benefited in the period from a “really obsessive” approach to customer service, with “aspirational product at very competitive prices”.
“In this challenging retail environment, it is pleasing that BrightHouse again has delivered improved revenue, profit and customer numbers,” he said. “Our market, serving low-income families, continues to be significantly underserved.”
Trading in the year to date was “in line with management expectations”, said McKee, while furniture in particular performed “stunningly well” in the period. But he remained cautious on the outlook. “We’ll see a continuation of the trend where consumers are prudent,” he said.
He said the retailer was “nervous about unemployment and underemployment”, he added, the latter describing the instance where people have lost their jobs in the recession and taken another job that is less well paid or has fewer hours.
BrightHouse opened 15 stores in the period, taking its portfolio to 213. It plans to open a further 15 stores in the second half.