Huge demand for hampers helps famous store end 2020 on high
- Credit: Archant
The boss of Norfolk department store Bakers and Larners said sales were down because of coronavirus - but given a surprise perk from food hampers.
Sales of the baskets full of goodies, emblazoned with the renowned black B&L lettering, were 50pc up on last year at the store in Holt.
Jane Gurney-Read, chairwoman and acting managing director, said as a result the store had delivered a "solid" performance over its 250th celebration year.
This came despite the challenges of both lockdown and the devastating fire at the firm's supermarket, Budgens in Holt in the summer.
"Our food hall was allowed to stay open. Our hamper sales were way up on expected, a lot more, because people wanted to send a special gift to loved ones in lockdown."
You may also want to watch:
In total the firm had made 15 staff redundant out of 275 last September, she said.
"I am not unhappy with how the year has ended: given all the challenges, we had a solid performance. Sales were down but not massively," she said.
- 1 Londoners fined for travelling to stay at second home in Norfolk
- 2 Several burst mains in town leave homes without water
- 3 Norfolk's first mass Covid vaccination centre to open in food court
- 4 Drivers face non-essential travel fines after spate of snow crashes
- 5 Sport and TV stars heading to Norfolk for new festival
- 6 Man in 20s dies and three hurt as Audi crashes into wall
- 7 Chef Galton Blackiston closes fish and chip shop during week
- 8 A148 shut for 'most of morning' after serious crash
- 9 Hundreds of homes across Norfolk hit by power cut
- 10 Norfolk wakes up to snow with more expected to fall
She also said that the department store had been bolstered by other arms of the CT Baker business; which owns Bakers & Larners as well as four builders' merchants, a Budgens in Aylsham and the one in Holt.
After the fire, a new temporary 5,000sqft store opened in November. Apart from the department store, the other arms of the business were allowed to trade throughout lockdown.
Mrs Gurney-Read said the firm was now focusing on rebuilding Budgens in Holt, with planning permission granted for a new replica store.
She hoped this would be open by next January-February but confirmed the temporary store would remain open until the new one was up and running.
She said she was looking forward to being able to give the staff a postponed 250th birthday party when possible.
"It has been a very challenging year. We started it so well but then we had the first lockdown in March and then the fire in June. However, we are pretty robust because of the diversifications of the business and our online sales have been strong too."
Former managing director Michael Baker died in July 2019 after working for 45 years to put the renowned family business and Holt itself on the map.