Angling Direct highlights strong sales momentum in 2020 despite store closures

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Angling Direct PLC (LON:ANG) said it has “maintained positive sales momentum” across its 2020 financial year despite all of its retail stores being closed for a large portion of the period due to lockdown measures introduced during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a trading update for the year to January 31, the fishing tackle and equipment retailer said it expects to report a revenue increase for the year of 27% to £67.6mln, driven by 40% growth in online sales to £35.3mln, which in turn was boosted by a strong expansion of 62% in the UK online segment.

READ: Angling Direct says positive sales momentum has continued in December

Total store sales, meanwhile, increased 16% to £32.3mln, while the company’s store estate increased to 38 outlets from 34 at the start of the year. However, the company said like-for-like store sales were down 8% due to trading restrictions enforced during the pandemic.

Despite disruption from the pandemic, the company said its strong trading performance meant it now expects to report full-year earnings (EBITDA) of at least £3.8mln, a “significant improvement” on the £0.5mln loss a year ago.

The company also said it has ended the year with a “significantly improved cash position” of £15mln at the end of the financial year, up from £5.9mln the year before.

Looking ahead, Angling Direct said it had started its current year facing more lockdown measures in the UK and many of its key European markets, as well as “some post-Brexit disruption to logistics” and less predictable supply from the Far East.

Despite this, the company said it remains “well placed to benefit from the heightened interest in angling as customers seek to take advantage of its numerous wellbeing benefits” and that its balance sheet meant it was well positioned to withstand further challenges and invest in key growth areas.

However, the group said in light of the “continued uncertainties caused by the pandemic” at the early stages of its current financial year, it believed it is prudent to not provide guidance for its 2022 financial year until such time that there is “further clarity over the timing and extent of the disruption”.

“On behalf of the board I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Angling Direct employees who have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, often in challenging circumstances, to deliver for our growing customer community”, Angling Direct’s chief executive Andy Torrance said in a statement.

“I am pleased with the performance that we have delivered through FY21, with good progress made on all fronts, both operationally and strategically, and look forward to reopening our stores in April, in line with the [UK] government’s roadmap as announced on 22 February 2021. The actions taken in FY21 ensure that the company is well positioned to withstand future challenges and I firmly believe that when we are through the other side of the pandemic, the company’s market leading omni-channel offering and scale will enable us to continue on our growth trajectory in the UK and internationally, as angling grows in popularity”, he added.

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