Following its most successful peak trading period to date ProCook is looking at opportunities for expansion both in EU markets and the UK, with owner Daniel O’Neill seeking investment partners to take these forward. The kitchenware retailer saw a huge 40% uplift on sales for the 12 weeks to January 3, compared to the same period last year. It is expecting an annual turnover of over £50m, anticipating profits of at least £10m this financial year.
Asked about the possibility of either investment partners or a sale, Daniel told HousewaresNews.net: “ProCook is going through a very exciting time at the moment and we have set some ambitious goals for growth that will require investment to achieve them. We’re working closely with KPMG to assess all our options and a sale of the business is certainly on the table.”
Despite most stores being closed for the November and December lockdowns, total company sales reached £21m in the run up to and including Christmas. ProCook reports +132% growth in like-for-like sales online for the period, which was partially offset by an expected drop of 21% in retail sales due to lockdown restrictions. The retailer acknowledges that sales were driven by increased consumer demand for kitchenware together with significant growth in its newly expanded tableware category.
Daniel explained: “We’ve always known that our multi-channel strategy was the right one and the acceleration online and to mobile this peak period has proved the point. The highlight for peak and indeed the whole of 2020 has been in e-commerce which has seen sales more than double on last year. We’ve also seen a big move to shopping on mobile in the past 12 months and have invested heavily to ensure we are offering customers the very best experience across all platforms.
“Although many of our retail stores were closed during lockdown we saw some incredibly strong performances when stores were open. We remain committed to our multi-channel strategy and our store growth strategy for 2021 includes upsizing some of our existing units to develop the in-store experience as well as testing a new concept with a cookery school.”
Discussing opportunities for upsizing some UK retail stores, Daniel said: “We have devoted very valuable retail space to show off our expanded tableware ranges, which includes realistic, ‘shoppable’ lifestyle settings. Our core cookware and knife ranges have also greatly expanded in the past year so it will give these categories more space to breathe.”
The retailer has “a couple of locations in mind” for a new concept store that would include cookery school. Daniel reported: “We will need a store with a much bigger footprint than any of our current stores offer so we’ll be looking for new premises for this exciting project.”
Looking further afield, ProCook already sells to customers in several EU countries online and is looking to grow this area. Daniel elaborated: “Expanding our bricks and mortar portfolio into Europe is definitely a possibility and something we’ll be looking at in the near future.”
He reflected: “We’ve been steadily growing our EU channel for several years and, although this currently accounts for a small percentage of our total sales, we’re confident there is a lot of potential for us to expand in this area.” The retailer has “not been deterred by Brexit,” although Daniel acknowledges that: “recent issues with ports, tariffs and border control have undeniably been challenging and there are still a lot of unknowns.”
Daniel reflected on ProCook’s own brand direct-to-consumer model, noting:” We control our products, our brand and the relationship with our customers, and as a truly multi-channel business we’re looking forward to the next chapter. With the support from KPMG Corporate Finance, the shareholders and senior management team, we will be undertaking a strategic review to enable us to prioritise our many opportunities.”
He concluded: “ProCook has come of age during the last 12 months. What’s going to be particularly exciting is we’ll shortly have the opportunity to see our e-commerce business grow alongside our successful store footprint as retail once again reopens.”
Top: ProCook’s branch in the 02 Icon Shopping Centre.