The booming housing market has brought optimism to furniture retail group Barker and Stonehouse which has posted lifts in sales and profits.
The Middlesbrough-based company, which is the UK’s biggest independent family-owned furniture retailer, increased its turnover to £40.2m for the year to March 31 2013, a small rise on the £39.6m posted for the previous 12 months.
Profit before tax was also up to £1.32m, up from £1.17m, and the company said it had a strong balance sheet value of £14.87m, compared to £13.02m for 2012.
Headcount also rose over the year, from an average of 251 employees to 254.
In its annual accounts filed at Companies House the business, founded in 1946, said it had traded profitably despite it being yet another difficult year for the furniture trade, tough times which were exacerbated by a significant flood at the Metrocentre store during the severe storm in June 2012, where the shop had to have a complete refit.
During the year the company built and opened its standalone freehold store at Knaresborough, and also acquired and refurbished a retail unit in Battersea, London, which opened in July. The Gateshead, London and Metrocentre stores are all now trading well.
In early March the firm also returned its shipping to Teesport, appointing local supply chain business PD Ports to manage the handling and distribution of its international furniture products. The company changed its shipping strategy by selecting Teesport instead of Southampton.
Barker and Stonehouse managing director James Barker said the firm’s performance had been boosted by the bouyant housing market, as those getting onto the property ladder sought to furnish their homes.
Barker said: “There is a little more optimism in the marketplace on the back of the improving economic climate as people become more confident with their purchasing habits.
The housing market also continues to recover and has more life in it now than it did 12 months ago which subsequently impacts the sale of interiors.
“In the past year we have opened new stores in Knaresborough and Battersea, the latter of which is only four months old, and we expect to have really established ourselves in London by this time next year. We are also undergoing a complete transformation of our Nottingham showroom which is in line with the general improvements and updates we do on an on-going basis throughout all our stores.
Our website also continues to grow with an increase in visitors from people both within the region and outside it.”
The directors’ report added: “Given the difficult underlying economic and trading conditions prevailing throughout the year under review, the directors consider the company’s revenue results and closing net assets position to be satisfactory.”