Zeon Limited has confounded prophets of doom by generating record sales and profits for the financial year ending March 31, 2021.
No year could have been more challenging, with the period straddling every major wave of covid and accompanying lock downs, but the British watch business has sailed through with its highest sales of the past decade and its second highest operating profit.
Zeon Limited is the UK distributor for Braun watches, owner of Ingersoll and produces Vivienne Westwood timepieces under license.
Sales for the 12 months to March 31 of £9.8 million, up 22.5%, generated an operating profit of £900,000, an improvement of almost £1 million over the prior year.
“During a year that has been decimated by several waves of covid-19, the performance for the financial year has been overwhelmingly strong,” says managing director Simon Gilham in a strategic report accompanying the financial results.
“Through the immediate introduction of scenario planning, management were able to successfully navigate both the short term and long term effects of the various lock downs and resulting forced change in consumer buying behavior,” Mr Gilham continues.
With customers forced to stay at home, they were soon online looking to cheer themselves up with treats like new watches.
They also had a little more cash to spend because they couldn’t spend money on other pleasures like holidays or eating out.
And consumers were relatively secure, either because they were employed in jobs that were very much needed despite the pandemic, or they were protected by the furlough scheme.
Zeon was well-placed to capitalise on these opportunities.
“A focus on reducing costs in the short term and an accelerated drive to implement new ways of working to facilitate continued uninterrupted service through all our online accounts and direct to consumer channels enabled us to take advantage of the continued demand for products as a result of the successful introduction of the government furlough scheme and the consumer’s wider embracing of online shopping brought about by retail store closures and working from home,” Mr Gilham suggests.
“Demand from both retailers and consumers remained buoyant for all our key brands: Ingersoll, Braund and Vivienne Westwood,” he adds.
Zeon kept trading despite choosing to furlough some of its employees in the first wave of the pandemic, and its profit was improved by accepting £73,000 from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Although Zeon’s own ecommerce and online sales through retail partners was crucial to success across the year, demand remained strong as stores reopened and people returned to high streets.
“Confidence in online retail continued even after the partial lifting of covid restrictions, coupled with an uplift in traditional retail as consumers rekindled their love affair with bricks and mortar shopping as a social and leisure activity resulted in continued sales growth,” Mr Gilham describes.