Nationwide bed and mattress retailer Bensons for Beds has reported robust sales for the last three months of 2022, driven by investment in its stores and online platform and following leadership changes made in the summer.
Like-for-like sales in the quarter to 31 December 2022, rose by 7%, compared to the same period a year earlier, despite toughening economic conditions as customers reacted to the pressure on household budgets.
The business has also made a positive start to its peak trading period, starting on Boxing Day, with sales continuing in line with the trends seen in the Christmas quarter.
Across the quarter, Bensons saw a 41% growth in online sales, with digital transactions now running at double pre-pandemic levels, reflecting the investments made in omnichannel capability and leadership. The quarter also saw an encouraging early performance from eve Sleep which Bensons acquired in October.
Bensons relaunched the evesleep.co.uk website just two weeks after acquiring the brand. The relaunch included its six best-selling mattress ranges which accounted for the majority of eve Sleep sales prior to Bensons’ acquisition.
Bensons is backed by Alteri Investors, the European retail sector specialist, and became a standalone business in 2020. In August 2022, Bensons secured additional funding from Alteri to drive its growth strategy and transformation plans through investment in stores and digital developments. During the year it made a series of changes to its senior leadership team, including the appointment of Nick Collard as chief executive in June.
Store sales growth was supported by higher transaction values, compensating for weaker footfall in a tough economic market. Following the opening and relocation of 18 stores in the previous 12 months, Bensons was trading from 168 stores by the end of 2022. It has set out its goal of growing the network to 180-190 stores over the next two years.
Investment in expanding and updating its store estate included December’s relocation of its store in Romford, Greater London, returning to Cannock in Staffordshire and a refit of its Cardiff Gate Retail Park store.
The 41% growth in digital sales, against strong comparative sales a year earlier, reflects the investment in digital infrastructure and talent over the last year.
During 2022, Bensons’ continued investment in its digital capability included the rollout of a new customer data platform, across digital and physical channels to improve conversion and customer acquisition. There have also been significant developments in Bensons overall platform to enhance performance and improve customers’ pre-purchase experience.
Bensons is investing significantly to build a portfolio of brands, the majority produced in-house at its own manufacturing centre in Cambridgeshire. That portfolio includes Slumberland and its new Simply by Bensons range, which was launched in Autumn 2022. Bensons is launching bed frames as part of this collection next month.
Bensons also recently launched a new and exclusive range of beds and mattresses under its heritage Staples & Co brand. The new ranges are designed to give customers a wide choice, with over 28,000 potential combinations.
The Alteri investment is helping to enhance its logistics network including distribution centres and its Huntingdon manufacturing site at a time when the supply chain has faced interruption and delays to supplies from Europe and the Far East and significant inflation in materials costs.
Nick Collard, Bensons chief executive officer, said: “Our performance over the quarter provides a good indication that our investments across the business are beginning to bear fruit.
“We have made big steps towards our goal of becoming a market leading omnichannel retailer reflected in the rise in sales at an important time of the year. Although we expect the market to remain challenging, we remain well placed to navigate the year ahead.
“I’d like to thank the dedication and hard work of all our colleagues as we continue to transform the business as we invest online, in stores and in our ranges.”