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Although national retail chain Bathstore has returned to profit, its CEO Gary Favell has admitted the company will never be able to silence its critics “because we are there to be shot down”.This is despite the company being back in the black for the first time since its £15million acquisition by Endless from Wolseley.
Bathstore made a full-year profit of £3.3million to July 2013, whereas last year it made a loss of £3.8million. Its total sales increased by 10% to £99million in its last financial year.
The company believes its revival of fortunes is based upon the combined customer experience of instore and online sales.
Following a redesign of its website, which now includes a 2D room planner, video tutorials, quote retrieval and online ordering, Bathstore has had an18% increase in web traffic and 47.5% growth in online sales in 12 months.
Bathstore has also looked to enhance the customer experience in store, with a showroom refreshment programme which has seen 43 outlets updated.
In addition, Bathstore now offers a national installation service, which saw the company come under fire from independent bathroom showrooms.
Bathstore received £2million worth of order in the first 11 weeks of launching the installation service, equating to 600 fits.
Gary Favell commenting on its negative press from independent retailers: “I think we deliver 1.25million pieces in a year. To sit here and say you’re never going to get an issue, I’d be a liar. But on the other hand, somebody making a negative comment is doing one fit a month, if you’re lucky.
“I think the flack we came under was from very small operators that really don’t want us coming onto their turf.”
In fact, Favell believes bathroom retail specialists are his biggest competitor: "I think the service proposition we have is to try to be almost a national independent." The company now claims to have a 12% share of the bathroom specialist market.
The full article appears in the January issue of Kitchens & Bathrooms News.