Clas Ohlson continues to “optimise” its UK store base

BHETA forms Export Committee

The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) has created a new committee to drive initiatives in support of the export opportunities throughout its membership. The new Export Committee which held its first meeting on June 7, is chaired by What More UK director Tony Grimshaw. The other committee members are Meyer Group business development director Geoff Gorst, Monument Tools managing director Jonathan Collier, Vegtrug CEO Joe Denham and Will Jones and Nicola Adams-Brown from BHETA. The Committee’s overriding objective is to encourage and support BHETA members to either start exporting or to build their existing export business. It is already working with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the international Chambers of Commerce to explore opportunities for overseas missions, international shows and grant availability. An initiative already actioned by the Committee was the provision of a list of international housewares, tableware and small domestic appliance buyers invited to attend the Exclusively Housewares and Exclusively Electrical shows in June. BHETA housewares director Will Jones said: “The market is very tough for many suppliers and BHETA has been encouraging members to explore various forms of diversification for some time.”

Swedish retailer Clas Ohlson reported a slight dent in its profits due to a rationalisation of its store portfolio in the UK, revealing plans to shut its flagship Croydon outlet as it continues to focus on small- format shops around London. Sales for the retail group which operates in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Dubai and the UK, were up 5% for the year to 7,990 million SEK (£7.3 billion). Operating profit, jumped 21% to 610 million SEK (approximately £557 million) for the year ended April 30, 2017. However, the figure allowed for a 107 million SEK (approximately £9.8 million) one-off cost related to rationalising its UK estate. Operating margin was 7.6%,

up from 6.7% last year but would have been 8.1% excluding non-recurring costs. During the financial year Clas Ohlson

closed six stores in the UK. The previous year it closed one store which resulted in a non- recurring cost of 10.5 million SEK (approximately £960,000) impacting its operating profit. Last year it revealed plans to halve its UK store network and focus on a new format. The retailer now has seven stores in the UK, in Liverpool, Manchester, Reading, Croydon, Kingston, Ealing and St Albans; the latter two being the first small-format outlets. However,

Clas Ohlson

plans to close the flagship Croydon store which was the first branch it opened when it started trading in the UK in 2008. Discussing the UK market, Clas Ohlson lamented a slowdown in the British economy and poor consumer confidence, however, “retail sales increased steadily throughout 2016”. It addressed a 16% increase

in online shopping which now accounts for 12% of UK retail sales and named its biggest competitors in the UK: Amazon, John Lewis and Currys. The total annual cost savings

related to the closure of all seven stores are an estimated 70

B&M reports strongest first quarter for three years

Against a backdrop of challenging trading conditions and general economic uncertainty, B&M has reported strong, profitable growth in its trading update for the first quarter of its current financial year from March 26 to June 24, 2017. This performance was helped by “excellent” sales in seasonal categories, particularly garden and outdoor living. “This quarter’s like-for like

growth represents B&M’s strongest first quarter for three years,” said chief executive Simon Arora. “It’s driven by customers, wherever they

live throughout the regions, becoming ever more receptive to the outstanding value delivered by B&M’s business model in relation to the things they buy regularly for their homes and families. In these uncertain times and, with inflation returning to the UK market, more and more shoppers are actively seeking out value in our stores and that means our business is strongly positioned to do well and continue its rapid growth.” Group sales revenue for the quarter increased by 17.2% on a constant currency basis. UK sales revenue for the

13-week period increased by 17.8% to £598.4m (2016: £508.1m) with like-for-like sales growth of 7.3% in the quarter although the UK business benefitted from the timing of Easter trading, which fell in the quarter this year, and added approximately 1.0% to the headline like-for-like total. At the end of the quarter, the

group’s UK business had 543 stores trading, having opened six net new stores over the past 13 weeks. This financial year, the UK business expects to open 40-50, most of which will be during the second half.

The Furniture Ombudsman reports rise in disputes

The Furniture Ombudsman saw a 49% rise in the number of disputes it handled in 2016, although believes this was due to more traders joining the scheme and taking greater responsibility for their customers.

The ombudsman said it managed a total of 5,903 disputes in 2016, up from 3,968 cases the previous year. Nearly half of those filed were under the upholstery product category which was down 7% from 2015, while there was a slight increase in cases filed under cabinetry and beds which accounted for

23% and kitchens (products and installations) which accounted for 20% of total disputes. The scheme’s other division, Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, managed disputes for non-furniture related goods and services including clothing, electricals and jewellery and services carried out by Which? Trusted traders. Almost all of the cases were

resolved or closed as a result of the conciliation process. In 0.9% of the cases the Ombudsman team had to make a decision. CEO and chief ombudsman of The Furniture Ombudsman

and Dispute Resolution Ombudsman Kevin Grix said: “Although at first glance a rise in case work might be considered as an indicator that an industry is in distress, our experience is different.

“It is almost inevitable that as the volume of businesses who are registered with us grows, so too will our case work. There is a causal link between the responsible attitude of our members to provide their consumers with our services and the simultaneous growth in numbers that we have

million SEK (approximately £6.4 million) when the restructuring has been fully realised during the 2017/18 financial year. While the store in Croydon remains open, the total cost savings are estimated at 60 million SEK (£5.5 million) on an annual basis.

Ebay unveils price match in UK

Online auction site Ebay will launch a price match guarantee on more than 20,000 deals on its UK site. The news follows hot on the heels of the launch on its US site of a price match strategy on more than 50,000 items, listing, BestBuy. com,, HomeDepot. com,,, or as its main competitors. With this offering in the UK Ebay guarantees that prices for new items included in its ‘Deals Programme’ will have the best price available online from six major online retailers. If it is not cheaper, Ebay will match the lower price by sending the customer an Ebay voucher for the difference, guaranteeing the spend on its retail site. In the UK the new pricing strategy is specifically targeting Amazon.,, Johnlewis. com,, and The offering will launch late July.

experienced. This is an indicator that many more businesses are taking their commitment to consumers seriously post-sale.”

As competition intensifies online, Amazon had another successful Prime Day on Tuesday, July 11. The one-day shopping event saw the online giant launch thousands of deals across departments and lead- up offers throughout the week. Members enjoyed 30 hours of deal shopping, with new deals as often as every five minutes.

21 JULY 2017 DIY WEEK 3

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