Surging sales on mobiles and tablet computers have helped the owner of online shopping and catalogue brands Very and Littlewoods deliver its first annual profit in a decade.
Retailer Shop Direct, which is owned by the billionaire Barclay brothers, swung to pre-tax profits of £6.6 million for the year to the end of June, versus £57.7m losses a year earlier.
Celebrity endorsement from Fearne Cotton and Myleene Klass also bolstered its performance, with sales rising 1 per cent to £1.69 billion.
Liverpool-based Shop Direct said the “digital revolution” meant online accounted for 81 per cent of sales between July and September, up from 78 per cent during the year and 75 per cent in 2012.
And 38 per cent of its online sales came via mobile devices in its latest quarter, compared with 20 per cent in 2012.
The group delivered 25.9 million parcels during the year, containing 45.6 million products. Undisclosed exceptional costs dropped to £8.4m from £46.2m a year earlier.
Chief executive Alex Baldock said the return to profit was a key milestone in the firm’s digital progress, giving a “solid platform to move forward”.
He said: “We occupy a unique position in the UK’s digital retail market by making good things easily accessible to more people.”
Shop Direct said its newer brands, Very.co.uk and isme.com, will be its “future growth drivers”, after hiking sales 18 per cent.