High street retailer The Works enjoyed a sales boost over the festive period despite previously raising concerns over significant increases in costs and shipping delays.
Bosses at the company, which specialises in books, crafts and stationery, said sales in the 11 weeks to January 16 were up 9% compared with the same period two years ago, before the pandemic.
They highlighted that shoppers were particularly keen on buying books for adults and branded children’s products like Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol.
Richard Osman’s novel The Man Who Died Twice, branded board games including Scrabble, and fidget toys were also flagged as driving growth.
Most of the growth came in online sales, which were up 71.9% in the period, with just 0.6% growth in store sales.
The company also pointed out that shoppers chose to buy Christmas gifts earlier last year to avoid disappointment from shipping delays.
But the rising Covid-19 infection rate failed to dampen sales, the business added, with less discounting needed in January.
The Works said: “Sales in the week immediately prior to Christmas were less affected than we expected by concerns relating to the rapid development of the Omicron variant.
“Meanwhile, our proactive management of the supply chain ensured that we had adequate stock despite some of it arriving later than planned.
“Due to the strong sales during November and December, terminal stock levels were low, reducing the need for significant markdown in the January sale.”
Less discounting also meant profit margins are likely to be higher for the year, the company added.
Chief executive Gavin Peck said: “We delivered a record Christmas, demonstrating the increasing appeal of our customer offer and despite uncertainty over the impact of Omicron and the ongoing supply chain challenges faced throughout our sector.
“This better-than-expected trading provides confidence that we will deliver an improved performance in 2022.
“We are now a much stronger business than we were two years ago and believe that delivering on our refocused strategy will have a transformational effect on our business.”
The update was a marked shift from November, when the company revealed it suffered significant high costs from shipping and delays in the supply chain.
Investors were also given an overview of sales in the six months to October 31, with The Works revealing that sales jumped 30.6% to £116.1 million compared with the same period last year.
Pre-tax losses reduced to £1 million compared with £4.3 million a year earlier over the period.