LONDON (Reuters) - Shop Direct, the privately owned British online department store retailer, that trades as Littlewoods, Very and isme, reported its first pretax profit for 10 years as the firm tapped into growing demand for shopping on mobile devices.
The group, owned by the billionaire Barclay brothers, Frederick and David, said on Tuesday it made a pretax profit of 6.6 million pounds in the year to June 30.
That compares to a loss of 57.7 million pounds in the 2011-12 year.
Sales rose 1 percent to 1.69 billion pounds, with sales from newer brands Very.co.uk and isme.co.uk up a combined 18 percent, outperforming the wider market and more than offsetting a 7 percent decline at longstanding brands Littlewoods.com and KandCo.com.
Shop Direct, which uses radio and television personality Fearne Cotton as the face of the Very brand, said 78 percent of sales were made online, up from 75 percent in the previous year. The figure has risen to 81 percent in the first quarter of the firm’s 2013-14 year.
Of the sales made online, 27 percent were made on mobile devices, a figure rising to 38 percent in the first quarter.
Conversely the number of catalogues the firm distributed during the year more than halved to 4 million.
Shop Direct sells over 800 brands, delivering 46 million products each year to 5 million customers.
Though data and surveys have indicated the outlook is improving for UK consumer spending, which generates about two-thirds of gross domestic product, retailers are generally still cautious as inflation continues to outpace wage rises.
Shop Direct said it was now focused on Christmas. It predicted that among best sellers would be onesies, Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and Furby Boom.
Reporting by James Davey, editing by Paul Sandle