Convenience chain retailer McColls has reported an 8.3% increase in sales for the first half of the financial year after the company benefited from “stronger demand” for food and alcohol amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the six months to 24 May, McColls reported a 1% decrease in total revenues to £604.8m compared with £611.1m in the same period last year, reflecting store closures during the period and lower services revenue due to the temporary withdrawal of scratch cards.
McColls also reported statutory loss of £1.3m compared to a profit of £200,000 in 2019, as gross profit fell slightly to £150.7m (2019: £155m) due to “lower total revenue and gross margin”.
Jonathan Miller, CEO, said: “We have seen an extraordinary change since the onset of the crisis. Strong demand, reaching double digit like-for-like sales in recent months, has been accompanied by a significant shift in the pattern of trade.
“Food grocery and alcohol sales have been particularly strong, in line with our longer-term strategy to grow these categories as part of our total sales mix. Meanwhile, customers have been spending less on impulse and buying more multipack products.”
According to the convenience retailer, it remains “difficult” to predict the full impact and duration of Covid-19 on sales and costs.
It said currently demand remains “strong” but it expects continued margin pressure and ongoing cost headwinds reflecting the need to keep customers and colleagues safe.
Fuller added: “Fundamentally, the pandemic has served to reinforce our conviction in our ongoing strategic change programme to serve our customers with a modern, local convenience offer with better meal solutions, fresh groceries and alcohol.
“What is clear is that the strategic importance of our neighbourhood stores and convenience retail to local communities has never been greater and, through implementing our strategy and improving our customer proposition, I remain confident in our long-term prospects.”