The company has highlighted improvements in cost control and a focus on product as factors behind its return to profitability.
Although threatened by rival value general merchandise retailers such as B&M and The Range, Wilko maintains a high street store presence rather than focusing on larger format stores. During the year, Wilko opened eight stores and closed seven, to take its total store estate to 416. The company also has an online presence at wilko.com. Online sales were flat for FY18/19, and delivering growth online is one way the company can hope to offset declining store sales.
More than half (54.7%) of sales came from own brand products, a slight increase from 52.7% in 2018, as the company continued with a strategy of transformation into a product-led business. Senior management changes saw the twin hires of chief financial officer Alex Russo from the same role at Asda and chief commercial officer Andrew Moore, also from Asda, to support the implementation of this strategy.
Andrew Moore commented: “We have focused this past year on controlling margin, costs and cash, helping us to return to profitability. While the retail environment remains challenging, we are pleased to see the popularity of our own brand products continue to rise. The coming year will see us focus on continuing to improve the customer proposition and drive further operational efficiencies. We want to ensure product is at the centre of everything we do.”