// Dunelm saw sales rise by over a third for most recent quarter
// Digital sales were up 12 per cent year-on-year
// Retailer announced it will pay back £14m received under government furlough scheme
Home and furniture specialist Dunelm on Thursday posted a 37 per cent jump in first quarter sales thanks to higher demand for home items.
Sales came in at £359.1 million in the 13 weeks to September 26, up 37 per cent, with digital sales were up 12 per cent on last year.
Net cash at the end of the first quarter was £175 million, an improvement from last year’s debt of £24 million net debt a year ago, thanks to £80 million of exceptional working capital inflows.
The retailer, which operates around 169 stores in the UK and an e-commerce platform, said it expects its gross margin to be slightly positive for the year, barring any impacts from coronavirus-disruptions or restrictions.
“Recent months have seen homewares become even more relevant, as people spend more time in their homes up and down the country,” chief executive Nick Wilkinson said.
“While we remain cautious about the continued uncertainty in the wider market, the resilience and flexibility of our business model leaves us well positioned as we enter our peak trading period, and we remain confident in our ability to grow market share and help even more customers create a home they love,” Wilkinson added.
Dunelm cancelled its last final dividend due to uncertainty caused by the pandemic, however the retailer announced in September that it had experienced encouraging trading in its stores since re-opening, and expected to pay an interim dividend in fiscal 2021, provided it faced no more “material impact” from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The business added that it will repay £14 million received under the government’s furlough scheme and will not claim more funds through further job retention schemes.