17 Feb 2015 Rutland Retail – A Review of Christmas 2014
With a number of retail focused investments, Christmas is an important trading period for the Rutland portfolio. Differentiated by the sector of the consumer market they target, each of Rutland’s retail portfolio companies – Pizza Hut Restaurants, Maplin Electronics and Bernard Matthews – reported a strong 2014 Christmas period following a positive trading year.
Pizza Hut Restaurants, one of the UK’s largest casual dining brands, saw 6.6% year on year growth via both transactions and average spend during the period 24 November 2014 to 4 January 2015 as the business benefitted from the on-going restaurant investment programme and operational initiatives. Similar to other retailers otherwise strong sales patterns varied during this period with Pizza Hut Restaurants benefitting from the change in shopping behaviour generated by Black Friday, where the company experienced a particularly significant sales peak over that weekend (11.9% growth). Last minute shopping also resulted in a bumper Christmas Eve achieving 12.8% growth on last year with New Year’s week additionally strong delivering 14% growth like for like and outperforming the UK casual dining market, with a £1m sales day on Friday 2 January 2015.
Maplin Electronics, the most recent addition to the Rutland portfolio, also enjoyed an encouraging Christmas period with store and online sales showing good growth. In particular, Christmas sales were boosted by the popularity of remote controlled toys, such as drones, and home connectivity products, as customers wanted to improve their homes over the Christmas break. In addition, Maplin enjoyed its best ever Christmas online sales with the growing popularity of its ‘click and collect’ service and an improving online service offering. Overall, in the four weeks before Boxing Day, store like for like sales rose by 3% with online sales increasing by 24%, which contributed to the company achieving six consecutive quarters of positive like for like sales.
Bernard Matthews produced nearly 3m fresh and frozen turkey products for Christmas 2014. During the festive season the company saw a rising trend towards fresh, 2014 being the first year more fresh products were produced than frozen. This was also reflected in the market where fresh turkey was the fastest growing fresh meat at Christmas with an increase of 4.4% in volume compared to an increase of 1.8% for fresh meat overall. A preference was also seen in convenient, easy to cook products, in particular turkey crowns and joints with added value offerings, using more interesting stuffing, ingredients and toppings. Following excellent Christmas sales, Bernard Matthews has brightened up its ‘shop window’ with a complete overhaul of its online presence, launching a new website that demonstrates the brand’s relevance to today’s busy family lifestyles. It is easy to navigate and completely geared towards the consumer.
The strong trading results for our retail focussed companies over the Christmas season are very encouraging and provides a good foundation for the further improvements and progress that we have planned for the forthcoming year.