Sofas and sofabeds up at Dunelm as both store and online developments continue

Home furnishings and homewares retailer Dunelm has revealed it is “on track” with its store rollout operation as well as indicating plans for online investments.

Detailed in its Interim Results for the 26 weeks ended 30 December 2023, where total half year sales rose 4.5% to £872.5m and pre-tax profit resulted at £123m, up 4.8%, Dunelm said that it remains committed to increasing the rate of new store openings.

“We are on track with those plans, having opened four stores in the first half, including both our traditional superstore and smaller formats, and across a range of location types,” Nick Wilkinson, Chief Executive Officer at Dunelm said.

“We are pleased with their performance to date and continue to see our new stores pay back very quickly, typically in less than three years.”

Furthermore, Dunelm said that through its own research, consumer shopping habits are constantly changing. “In a fast-changing world, we are sharpening our focus on better serving customers as their attitudes and habits evolve,” Nick added.

“We know from our research that multi-channel shopping is well established in homewares, where very few consumers consider themselves to be online-only or store-only shoppers. That said, consumer attitudes are evolving at pace, in terms of their attitudes to home, what they expect from products they buy and how they want to shop.

“Responding to this, we feel advantaged through our channels, but also as a specialist with breadth and depth. We have breadth of categories, price and quality tiers, services and styles. Our depth comes through our established supplier partner network, through our knowledge in product design, and through our robust supply chains. Our specialism allows us to adapt and innovate, making changes quickly and effectively to increase our relevance for consumers.”

As part of this, and within its furniture division, the retailer has developed its ranges of sofas, sofabeds and upholstered chairs, introducing new fabrics and sizes, as well as making most of its products available for five-day delivery.

These investments have paid off too. “We saw strong growth in furniture, where our sofas and sofabeds category performed well, reflecting the introduction of new shapes and colours to our best-selling ranges,” Nick said. “We now offer five-day lead times on most of our furniture, as well as interest free credit to qualifying customers shopping online.”

And with online, Nick revealed that from utilising its growing technology capabilities, Dunelm has broken down the highest traffic pages on its website into smaller autonomous modules (‘micro front-ends’) which can be developed independently.

“This gives us more flexibility in making changes and improves the speed and performance of our website to enhance the overall customer experience,” Nick said. “It also increases the efficiency of our performance marketing spend by improving our online search rankings.

“We have initially focused on our product detail pages – an area of high web traffic – and are now working on extending this approach to other areas of the website to deliver further benefits. We are also enhancing the user interface, making it easier to navigate the site and adding tools to improve accessibility.

“Going forward, we have plans to improve customer search functionality and the online checkout experience. These are just some of the small changes which, in aggregate, contribute to meaningful sales growth.”

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