Value chain Wilkinson is to ramp up its store rebranding programme after recording another strong year, with profits more than doubling in the 12 months to January 29.
Pre-tax profits rocketed from £29.5m to £65m in the year. Like-for-likes increased 2% while turnover climbed 7% to £1.6bn.
The retailer opened 17 new stores in the year and expects to open a similar number this year. The new shops opened in the latest store format that Wilkinson said moves the retailer on “radically”.
It said the format features “new signage, layouts, lighting, flooring, fascias and displays”.
This year it will remodel 80 existing shops in celebration of the retailer’s 80th birthday. All 337 shops will be remodelled in the next four years.
The retailer said its fourth quarter was “particularly strong” and that it was “particularly pleased with progress on profit”, which benefited from “investments in stores, supply chain, people and infrastructure” as well as a “focus on reducing cost”.
In its annual report, Wilkinson said that it has prospered, “despite a gloomy economic climate that saw other retailers falter”. Wilkinson is likely to have soaked up some of the sales from collapsed chain Woolworths. It has also been expanding outside of its traditional heartland of the North and Midlands, and pushing further into the South with openings in Redhill in Surrey and Walthamstow in Greater London.
In the year, Wilkinson relaunched its biggest category, home - which notched up £120m sales - as well as health and beauty. In 2010 it will “completely revamp” its DIY and decorating departments.
The retailer will also launch its biggest catalogue this year.
In a joint statement, directors Karin Swann and Lisa Wilkinson said: “Despite the very tough economic climate, we have seen our business continue to develop and grow. In the coming year, we are determined to reinforce and focus our efforts even more to keep our customers firmly at the heart of
everything we do.”