Cookes Furniture Two-store independent Cookes Furniture said it built sales momentum in 2013–14 and has seen top and bottom line improvement in the first six months of its new financial year.

The retailer — which has stores in Birmingham and Christchurch — said it held a number of highly successful sales events on its way to 4.8 per cent revenue growth to £9.1m in the year to end March.

Gross margin declined 160 basis points to 34.9 per cent with the business recording a £221k deficit at the pre-tax line, which compared with earnings of £28k in 2012–13.

Cookes was strongly cash generative in the latest period, and cut year end net to £270k (2013: £955k) despite net capital expenditure and loan and lease repayments both being higher compared to the previous year.

Operationally, the privately owned company said it had taken back day-to-day control of Edwards — its in-store restaurant — as well as refurbishing the upstairs of its Erdington, Birmingham superstore.

Chairman Graham Cooke said the restaurant was now a wonderful complement to the rest of the Birmingham store, developing into a real asset giving significant footfall and providing an invaluable service to customers.

Regarding investment in the Midlands site he added: “We are extremely proud of the new look and feel of the showroom and will continue to develop the formula to ensure Cookes is a market leader in terms of product selection, shopping environment, service levels and ultimately overall customer satisfaction.”

Cookes said its investment in a range of measures and projects would bring strong benefits from 2014 onwards, evidenced by it seeing an improved sales performance and result in the first six months of its new financial year. Its order book at the balance sheet date was significantly bulkier, with £1.2m of customer deposits held at the year-end, up from £599k 12 months prior.

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