The following statement from Swan's Managing Director Rob Wileman and Sales Director Paul Simpson highlights some of our major achievements during the challenging year from July 2020 to June 2021. They also cast ahead to the exciting prospects for 2022.
In what has clearly been another difficult year for retailers and suppliers alike, Covid-19 continues to impact the end-to-end supply chain, from increases in raw materials, shortages and cost of shipping containers and domestically balancing office and home working to ensure we maximise the safety and wellbeing of our staff whilst continuing to drive our brand and sales.
Once again our multi-channel approach to sales and marketing, which is based around traditional hybrid retailers, Pureplay online retailers, and our own Business to Consumer, has ensured that we have fully capitalised on the opportunities available to us, driving a year-on-year gross sales increase of almost 70%. Our key categories have been Small Domestic Appliances, Floorcare, and Housewares.
However, whilst still, a relatively small category, our Al Fresco outdoor heating range has seen strong growth, which reflects periods of lockdown and home entertaining. After a difficult year in 19/20 driven by product availability, our refrigeration range went back into growth despite significant cost increases driven by shipping rate increases.
Once again key drivers by channel have been those retailers with high or total dependency on E-Commerce. Our own B2C sales have increased in excess of 125%, and our key Pureplay online retail sales have grown by almost 80%, whilst traditional retail channels have proved more challenging with shop closures during lockdown impacting their total sales performance.
Our stock position has recovered significantly against the previous year, improving availability and service levels across all categories.
Once again growth is not limited to the UK and has also generated interest and opportunities in international markets across the world, significantly Spain, Holland, Canada, Sri Lanka, South Korea and the Middle East.
We launched our new website in July 2020, which generated 3.7 million store sessions over the past year; this is almost double the previous year’s achievement. Customer loyalty is increasing with a returning customer rate of 23%, which is a 61% increase from the previous year.
Social media following at 241,000 was over 80% up on the previous year with all channels growing: Instagram 133k, up 122%, Facebook 75k, up 15%, Twitter 18k, up 300%, TikTok 10k, up 2000%, LinkedIn 2.3k, up 130%, and YouTube 2.3k, up 275%.
Our next-day Direct Home delivery capability continues to grow at almost 300,000 despatches, which is 35% ahead of the previous year.
We introduced new, on-trend colours to our Retro and Nordic ranges across both electrical and housewares. We also launched our roaring 20s inspired Gatsby range of electrical and housewares and introduced Stealth ‘all black’ electrical, stylish addition to our range. Finally, we introduced Dirtmaster, our powerful carpet-cleaning products and solutions to complement our existing range of Eureka vacuum cleaners.
With lots more products under development, we are extremely confident we will stay ahead of our competition when it comes to innovation, design and value.
Covid-19 will be around for the foreseeable future and will continue to impact consumer confidence and spending behaviour. Supply chain costs will remain challenging, possibly into 2022. However, we remain confident that with a clear focus on new product development, range expansions into new categories, and a clear channel strategy for the UK and internationally, we will continue to grow and outperform the market.
We are investing in our people to support and drive this growth through internal development and promotion, supported by external recruitment, bringing in specialist skills and experience. This has seen our staff numbers double over the past 12 months.