The Works has registered an increase in full-year revenues with a strong online performance during the coronavirus pandemic.

The retailer posted a 3.5% increase in total sales in the year to April 26, while like for likes inched up 0.7% to March 22, before stores were forced to close. 

In the week to March 22 – the final seven days before the lockdown was enforced by Boris Johnson – The Works sales rocketed 81% amid customer demand for “products to support children’s ongoing education, mindfulness materials to support mental health and products to beat the boredom during this period of social distancing”.

The Works shuttered all of its 534 physical stores on March 23 but said it has experienced “strong demand” online. Ecommerce sales have surged to more than three times last year’s levels.

It said the “unprecedented level” of demand and the implementation of social distancing measures in its distribution centres forced it to limit online daily sales volumes. The Works said it is working with its third-party fulfilment partner to expand its online capacity.

All of The Works’ store staff and the majority of its distribution and support centre workers have been furloughed. 

Chief executive Gavin Peck has taken a 33% pay cut for the next three months, non-executives Catherine Glickman and Harry Morley have waived 33% of their fees and chair Dean Hoyle is not being paid at all during the lockdown.

Other operational directors have also taken a voluntary 20% pay reduction during the period of store closures.  

The Works did not provide full-year profit guidance for its new financial year and said it was adopting a “cautious outlook” given the “highly uncertain” trading conditions and the likely impact of social distancing measures in stores when they are allowed to reopen. 

It insisted that it had “appropriate liquidity” in place to weather the storm caused by coronavirus.