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Shop Direct cuts pre-tax losses

Shop Direct, the owner of Littlewoods, narrowed losses in its full year as sales remained flat.

Pre-tax losses were cut by 37% to £57.7m while sales edged up 0.4% to £1.67bn in its year ending June 30.

EBITDA jumped 66% to £108.9m over the year. The retailer said its focus on stock control, cash management and efficiency helped to mitigate the impact of increased promotional activity over the year.

Shop Direct Group finance and product director Mark McMenemy said it was a “strong performance”.

He said: “We grew sales slightly despite increased pressures on customers, which demonstrates clearly the broad appeal of our brand, product and financial services offerings.”

Its young brand Very and mature brand Isme both experienced double-digit growth over the year, buoyed by investment in own labels.

The group grew online sales by 6% over the year. The channel now accounts for three quarters of overall sales.

New Shop Direct chief executive Alex Baldock said mobile is one of the biggest opportunities the group has.

Almost a third of all web visits now come from mobile, with traffic up 260% year on year. Mobile accounts for 20% of all online sales.

Baldock said: “Looking ahead, we will start to see real incremental growth in sales from mobile as we continue to draw on our unparalleled knowledge of customer needs and shopping habits.

The retailer said it is focusing on delivering “a superb Christmas” and has invested heavily in seasonal marketing which Baldock said was producing “excellent” results.

He expects tablets to be among its best-selling products this Christmas.

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