STAMPS and collectibles specialist Stanley Gibbons has posted record results after seeing a 72% jump in sales achieved over the internet.
The business, which was founded in 1856 and has its main outlet on London’s Strand, currently generates one-eighth of revenues from websites but said it expects the internet to become its main sales channel.
Buoyed by demand for Royal Wedding memorabilia and closer ties with stamp enthusiasts in China, the company’s sales rose by 35% to £35.7m in 2011 while pre-tax profits lifted by 17% to £5.2m.
Chairman Martin Bralsford said the record year and strong start to 2012, with its order book at a record high, reflected a strong market for rare collectibles and efforts of management to embrace the digital era.
He added: “There is evidence of a substantial shift in clients’ behaviour away from traditional dealing and mail order to the internet and auction channels. Consequently, we have invested more group resources in these services.”
The jump in online sales to £4.3m follows a redesign of its website in May.
Hong Kong and China trading brought in sales of £1m last year and the group expects to benefit from the sale of commemorative items related to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games during 2012.
It is also planning two auctions later this year of the Arnhold stamp collection, which is expected to attract total bids worth £1m.
Among plans to make the most of its burgeoning digital business is the development of mobile phone apps to view the virtual shop.
Other improvements include adding detailed descriptions to the online stamp catalogue and launching foreign language versions of the website.
After seeing a rise in sales to investors, Gibbons is also setting up a rare stamp fund this year, subject to regulatory approval.
The company anticipates that wealth managers will view investing in collectibles as a way of diversifying their portfolios and as a long term hedge against inflation.