Lingerie drives bumper sales and profits at Lovehoney

Lovehoney co-owners Richard Longhurst (L) and Neal Slateford (R).

Pre-tax profits at ecommerce giant and Lovehoney have surged by 76% after it was honoured by the Queen.

The rise from £5.1 million to £9 million in the 12 months to March 31 was due to strong website growth in the UK and internationally and significant new product development, the retailer said.

Sales were also up 31% – increasing from £58 million to £76 million. Around a third of the sales are from lingerie and the firm has launched a luxurious new range, Moonlight, with body positive model Ashley Alexiss.

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It has been designed in-house by former Marks & Spencer and La Perla designer Heather Mercer.

Updates on the Ashley Alexiss collection coming soon.

Lovehoney received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise last year for boosting UK exports and owners Richard Longhurst and Neal Slateford met the Queen and Prince Philip at an official reception at Buckingham Palace.

The majority of sales came from three territories – UK (£50 million, up 16% on last year), Europe (£6.4 million, up 51%) and the rest of the world (primarily US and Australia) where sales shot up by 71% from £11.5 million to £19.8 million.

Lovehoney attributes a large part of its success to its branded licensing deals.

Ranges include collaborations with Fifty Shades of Grey author E L James, rock bands Motörhead and Mötley Crüe and a new collection developed with Comedy Central for the hit TV show Broad City which has increased sales in the US in particular.

The company said its online-only model had contributed to keeping costs to a lower level than bricks-and-mortar rivals and helped it to remain price competitive in a tough retail environment.

Unveiling the results, Slateford said: “It’s wonderful to be celebrating our 15th birthday with record sales and profits and the royal seal of approval.

“We would like to thank the Queen for recognising our achievements – that royal recognition has really helped us to grow the brand overseas.

“Our online-only model gives us significant advantages over more traditional rivals and will allow us to keep prices and costs low in what is a tough period for all retailers.”

Slateford said that sales had not been affected by the Brexit vote to leave the EU last June.

“Three-quarters of the trading year followed the Brexit vote and we have not found the political uncertainty has impacted on sales.”

Turnover at Lovehoney five years ago was £16 million and the record growth since then has in part been driven by the ‘Fifty Shades effect’.

Lovehoney is launching a new set of official products for the new Fifty Shades Freed movie which comes out around Valentine’s Day next year.

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