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Dunelm expects to resume dividend next year on post-lockdown recovery

(Reuters) - British home furnishing retailer Dunelm DNLM.L said it had outperformed its expectations for a recovery from coronavirus-driven store closures and expects to pay an interim dividend next year provided it faces no further hits from the pandemic.

The company, which sells furnishings ranging from cushions and bedding to kitchen equipment, said on Thursday pretax profit fell 13.3% to 109.1 million pounds ($142.04 million) for the year ended June 27, hurt by lockdown-led store closures.

Sales jumped 59% in July and 24% in August, partly due to pent up demand and the timing of its summer sale, the company said.

“Our customers have adapted quickly to shopping safely in our mainly out-of-town superstores and we continue to see strong growth in our home delivery offer,” Chief Executive Officer Nick Wilkinson said.

The company, which was founded in 1979 as a market stall business, also said it expects an increase of around 15 million pounds in operating costs in fiscal 2021 as it invests in growth plans.

“Dunelm has been a clear relative winner in the sector through the crisis, with possibly some lasting benefits from strong customer acquisition,” JP Morgan analysts said.

The company reiterated that it was very difficult to provide any meaningful outlook, but said footfall for the first two months of fiscal 2021 has been positive, with digital sales accounting for 31% of total sales.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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