House of Bruar sees annual turnover jump by tenth as upgrade continues

Sales have reached nearly �30m with the retailer optimistic ' but anxious over the impact of Brexit. Picture: contributed.
Sales have reached nearly �30m with the retailer optimistic ' but anxious over the impact of Brexit. Picture: contributed.
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Perthshire-based luxury retail destination the House of Bruar has seen annual turnover grow by almost a tenth, boosted by a jump in direct business, and with work under way to enhance its facilities.

However, the business also expressed concern over Brexit uncertainty.

It stated that for the year to 31 January, turnover increased by 9.5 per cent to nearly £30 million. Core earnings came to £4m, up by 5 per cent, while the average number of staff was up by 8 per cent to 255.

The House of Bruar said the results were stifled by a change in accounting standards meaning all mail order costs have to be written off in the year, rather than allocated against sales occurring between February and August, before the launch of the next catalogue.

It also said the turnover increase was largely related to a 25 per cent increase in direct business, which is generated by producing and mailing more catalogues. “Despite the majority of growth coming in mail order, retail remains the largest part of the business,” MD Patrick Birkbeck said.

It hailed an increase during the current financial year of on-site sales, which it said came despite the Beast from the East and the very hot summer, which had a major impact on textile sales.

“The summer heat also obliterated the grouse stocks in Scotland and further compounded the poor textile sales in the country and sporting sector. However, visitor numbers grew by 3.9 per cent, and the restaurant and food hall [saw] double-digit growth in turnover,” Birkbeck added.

The direct shopping channels grew by more than 20 per cent, helped by items of clothing unique to The House of Bruar and the focus on handmade in its gift offering. “Targeted digital marketing is becoming more significant for the company and the customers.”

Looking at the current financial year, Birkbeck said the uncertainty attached to Brexit continues to be “very concerning” for the supply chain. He also highlighted positive developments, such as the extension to the restaurant facilities under construction and set to open in early spring. New offices are being built at the firm’s distribution centre, allowing for further hiring both on its direct shopping side and in the buying operations based on the main site.

The company is also looking at installing an electric vehicle charging hub, and said the performance of the digital aspects of direct shopping attached to unique products and designs with British heritage “creates a strong opportunity for 2019”.