Hobbycraft virtual workshops here to stay

Arts and crafts retailer Hobbycraft has said it plans to continue running many of the virtual events it started during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown period.

The specialist retailer offered daily ‘Kids’ Craft Club’ classes on its social media channels when shops shut due to the pandemic, and it plans to run demos and workshops via social platform Facebook Live and video conferencing service Zoom, indefinitely, in order to keep as wide an audience as possible as many consumers opt to limit trips out of their homes.

It added that stores remain "social centres for craft" in their local communities, but the events are now clearly becoming more multichannel in their structure following the pandemic.

During the recent period of disruption, when the government called on non-essential shops to temporarily close to help halt the spread of the virus, Hobbycraft’s online like-for-like sales rose by 200%, and its digital classes reached more than 15 million customers.

Hobbycraft CEO, Dominic Jordan, said newness in product and differentiation in range have ensured the business fared well in recent months, but also throughout the last financial year, which ended on 16 February.

“Our resolute focus on the strategy will see us bring further product innovation and inspiration, a new approach to online demonstrations and workshops, new stores and further investment in our eCommerce platform to support future growth,” he remarked.

“As ever, these plans are underpinned by a focus on great customer service and colleague engagement. We seek to provide inspiration to customers in the local communities we serve and allow our colleagues to demonstrate their incredible knowledge and passion for crafting.”

The arts and crafts retailer announced today that adjusted EBITDA rose by 21.9%, from £12.2 million to £14.8 million, in the full year. Total revenue was up by 8.9% to £193.6 million.

In-store like-for-like sales rose by 4.7% for the year, while eCommerce trading was up by 19%, which was partly attributed to investment in its click & collect service.

Hobbycraft opened five new stores over the year bringing its total number of shops to 99.

There are now 4.5 million members of the Hobbycraft Club, a membership scheme which offers customers discounts and priority information related to attending specialist crafting events.

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