Entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, owner of Ryman, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue, revealed a Christmas sales uplift across the board and a return to the black for key brands.

Theo Paphitis

Theo Paphitis said he was “pleasantly surprised” to see more customers returning to stores 

His Theo Paphitis Retail Group, which also includes the London Graphic Centre, generated a 5.5% increase in store sales over the six weeks to December 24. Online sales fell 9.7% resulting in flat group revenues year on year.

Robert Dyas notched up growth of 5.3%, Ryman stores were ahead 7.2% and Boux Avenue shop sales improved 1.8%. 

In the financial year to March 2022, stationer Ryman and hardware retailer Robert Dyas both returned to profit, while lingerie specialist Boux Avenue cut losses as the businesses recovered from the impact of the pandemic.

Ryman’s turnover rose 40.8% to £102.8m and EBITDA came in at £1.3m versus a loss the previous year of £8.5m.

Robert Dyas’ sales advanced 34.4% to £164.6m, resulting in EBITDA of £2.5m compared with a loss of £0.7m the previous year. 

Boux Avenue achieved a 43.2% increase in turnover to £67.1m and an EBITDA loss of £0.3m was “a significant improvement on previous years”. 

Paphitis said: “There is no doubt that the resilience and creativity of retail has been significantly tested over the last three years. 

“I am, therefore, pleased with how our brands and colleagues have responded to the challenges of the pandemic, which was closely followed by other significant negative economic and political factors in 2022. 

“We saw a recovery in turnover and profit across all of our brands in the financial year to March 2022, as our customers returned to stores and we were pleasantly surprised to see more of a swing to this channel than expected. 

“Although this seems to have been a market-wide trend out of the pandemic, I also credit our colleagues serving our customers over the years for making our stores a retail destination for receiving both great products and service. 

“While we expect the headwinds caused by the global economic and political environment to make 2023 another challenging year, we have seen through previous difficult trading periods that customers still respond to retailers providing the right products, convenience and service.

“It may well be argued that, with a combined history of 280 years, Ryman and Robert Dyas have experienced almost everything that can be thrown at business and retail.

“Through peak Robert Dyas performed particularly well, with a campaign focused on cutting the cost of living resonating with our customers. Energy-saving products like air fryers, portable heaters and heated airers led the way. 

“Ryman has seen sales build throughout the year, helped as people returned to offices, schools and universities, seeing a recovery in our city centre stores in particular. New ranges extending into the art and crafts market have also performed well and will be developed further. 

“While Boux Avenue has seen a volatile current year with online proving less resilient than its stores, we have continued to develop the business further. This is evidenced by the opening of two new stores in Derby and Reading, with additional sites being considered for 2023 and 2024.

“We have also invested in automating our distribution centre to increase capacity and improve efficiency, to support growth plans.”