Furniture manufacturer Lebus Upholstery saw revenues grow 10 per cent in 2019, and has told how lockdown prompted an order rush akin to traditional new year sales.
The Scunthorpe operator’s turnover hit £43.2 million, up from £39.1 million in 2018. Pre-tax profits more than doubled from £1.2 million to £2.6 million for the employer of nearly 500 people.
Lebus supplies retailers as one of the largest UK-based manufacturers, and while production ceased during the pandemic’s height and the lull is predicted to hit profits for the coming year, it has not wiped them out, after house-bound consumers rushed to refresh their homes.
In the annual report, Darrell Bettany, financial director at the Queensway Industrial Estate business, told how in 2019 “additional sales came from across the customer base” which had “allowed volume production to improve efficiencies which in turn improved net margins”.
Turning to the start of this year, and the impact of coronavirus, he said: “As the UK lockdown included retail we could not deliver orders to our customers, so we closed the operation.”
The majority of the workforce was furloughed, though “no other financial support was sought or required,” he said.
“During the lockdown period approximately 8,000 orders were received as retailers continued to trade online. Once retail reopened in mid June our order intake increased over the following five weeks to levels normally experienced over the key two week new year sale period.
“The impact of the closure will reduce the full year profit compared to 2019 performance, however the strong order book will allow the full year to trade profitably.”
Mr Bettany told how a key focus of the directors was to improve profitability and cash flow to reduce risks in an economic downturn, and flagged that a hard Brexit could have a short term impact on material supply, with the Dunlop Way operation having a limited capacity to hold extra stock.
Staff numbers increased from 452 to 480 in the calendar-mirroring financial year which saw it roll out a gold-plated apprenticeship scheme, guaranteeing jobs to 11 successful candidates, as reported.