Dfs EBITDA fell 23.5% and sales dipped 1.3% in its first half. Retail Week speaks to chief executive Ian Filby about it.
Sales and profits were down in the first half. What drove the decline?
The timings of the bank holidays, the warm weather in the summer and autumn, and bad news on consumer confidence. It had a little bit of a dulling affect. But this is the nature of our market.
I’m blessed to have people around me who have been in the market for 25 years. [Trading] balances out over the 12 month period. We’re comfortable with how things are progressing.
Trading has rebounded in the second half.
What is your view on how 2014 will play out?
At the back end of autumn we had a period of strong trading. There might have been a little bit of holding back until the winter Sale. We had really positive trading around that period. The signs [for 2014] are good. We know two things are good for our market. One is consumer confidence and the other is the level of house moves. The evidence suggests there have been more mortgage approvals. But there’s a big slug of middle England where disposable income is down year on year. That factor has not miraculously gone away.
It will still be a tough year. The winners will be those offering great value to young families and young couples.
You invested in Dwell since year-end. How did that come about?
It’s a continuation of us looking for good opportunities to partner with brands. It strengthens our appeal. They target young urban couples and have more of a male bias than our other brands. It’s a brand that complements the business. There are opportunities for synergies.
What changes have you been making to the online offer?
We’ve invested big time in replatforming. We’ve led a big overhaul of the infrastructure to respond to the needs of web shopping. It’s now tablet-orientated. Over half of our traffic comes from tablet and mobile. We are offering much richer content for the consumer. The web is absolutely flying.