Crawshaw has record Christmas week sales

Butcher Crawshaw Group had record sales in the week leading up to Christmas due to the strength of its growing factory shop format which helped to offset the impact of lower footfall on the high street.

Total group sales for the 15 weeks to 24 Dec increased by 0.6% versus the prior year, with group gross margin also increasing by 0.6%.

The group said: 'The performance for the 15 week period was underpinned by the strength of the growing factory shop format, which helped to offset the impact of lower footfall on the high street and the overall softer consumer sentiment (group LFL sales at -6.1% and group LFL customers -2.6%).

'We experienced a strong core festive trade with group sales in the week leading up to Christmas reaching a record £1.8m and almost 3,500 amazing value meat hampers sold.

'Since our last update, we have opened two more new factory shop units to complete the five planned for the year, taking the total to 10 factory shops within the 54-shop estate.

'The factory shops delivered a strong festive trade accounting for a quarter of group sales in the period.

'As previously noted, our factory shop model is proven with our 10 factory shops continuing to perform well and are on track to deliver a circa one-year cash payback.'

The group said the transformative partnership with the 2Sisters Food Group was progressing well with core poultry supply routes well established and a framework for successful new product category tests landing over the festive period.

The group said it was already looking to leverage the supply agreement to expand this type of activity to increase the basket spend of existing customers and 'to incentivise more new customers to build us into their regular shopping routine'.

It added: 'The softer consumer environment has impacted the progress we were seeing on LFL sales and, coupled with the certainty of additional cost inflation flowing through, we expect this to continue to act as a drag on profitability in the high street shops.

'We are making progress on re-balancing the portfolio towards the factory shop model, which underpins the long-term profitability of the business, and we anticipate a period of transition as the necessary actions are taken.'

Chief executive Noel Collett said: 'On balance, this was a solid core Christmas trading performance against what remains a very tough high street environment.

'Our biggest ever Christmas week and the record number of meat hampers sold clearly demonstrates the trust our customers place in us for their most important meat spend of the year.

'This gives us a solid platform to improve trading momentum going into 2018.

'We continue to focus on strengthening Crawshaws' position as the country's best value butcher.

'We are excited by the performance of our factory shops and by the progress of our 2Sisters supply agreement and, while there is much to do, we remain confident that this combination will be transformational for the long-term growth of the company.'