Strong results down to exclusive offer
Home shopping to educational supplies specialist Findel has underlined the relative immunity of the sector to the general retail gloom, with strong year-end figures. The company grew its turnover by 9 per cent to£458.1 million for the year to March 31. Profit before tax rose 17 per cent to£48 million.

Findel's educational supplies division outstripped its home shopping business in terms of turnover growth, which rose 18 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. However, the home shopping arm grew operating profit by 26 per cent, compared with the educational supplies arm's operating profit growth before exceptional items of 9 per cent. The company's retail operations remain the dominant business by far, contributing two thirds of operating profit.

Group sales in the first 6 weeks of the current financial year are 11 per cent ahead of the same period last year, excluding two acquisitions made last year at the educational supplies arm.

Findel chairman Keith Chapman said the home shopping division had seen a drop in average order values, but this was because of aggressive pricing and had been compensated by increased volumes. Customer retention was kept at 65 per cent for the year. Chapman emphasised that part of the home shopping arm's success was the difference in its offer compared with rivals.

He said: 'We have a very strong philosophy of not becoming a me-too business. This is important, especially against a backdrop of tough retail conditions. Over 25 per cent of our ranges are exclusive to us and the uniqueness of our proposition is reinforced by the fact that over half our customers purchase a personalised item. This policy of differentiation will continue strongly in the coming year.'