Wilkinson is launching an upmarket own-brand range including more than 100 home and kitchenware products as it seeks to appeal to quality conscious customer.
The range – named ‘Wilkinson’ – will launch in stores in the autumn, and will include items such as towels, cooking utensils and glasses.
It is a first for the retailer, which after a renewed focus on own-brand last year, reported that private-label sales were up 10% to £700m.
A source close to the retailer said Wilkinson has a “clear determination to continue own-brand development” as its ranges gain an “increasing reputation for quality at affordable prices”.
In the year to January 28, Wilkinson pre-tax profits fell from £65m to £61m as it was hit by rising commodity prices, the increase in VAT and fluctuating exchange rates.
The fall comes after a stellar performance in the previous year, when pre-tax profits more than doubled. Like-for-likes dropped 1.3% in the period, while turnover was flat at £1.6bn.
Wilkinson chief executive Stuart Mitchell described the results as “a strong performance given the trading conditions during the year”.
A source close to the retailer said current trading “remains tough”. However he said: “Wilko benefits from its value offering which is now more important than ever.”
In its Annual Review, the value retailer said it had its best ever Christmas despite suffering in the “exceptionally severe weather” in the lead up to the festive period.
It said a focus on investment in stores, supply chain and infrastructure benefited the retailer.
Wilkinson said it has noticed that customers were shopping less frequently and “seeking out value, trading down and concentrating on essential spending”.
The retailer rolled out its new branding to 80 stores last year, and sales in these stores were 4% above the rest of the estate.
Wilkinson opened 14 new shops in the period, and said it expects to open a similar number in the current financial year.
The retailer said it saw “huge growth” in visitors to the website, which were up 20%, after it was relaunched it in the period.