Soft furnishings firm Bedeck cuts its cloth to cope with Covid

Bedeck's joint managing directors Gary and Andrew Irwin
Gary McDonald Business Editor

CO Armagh-based bedding and soft furnishings firm Bedeck has reported a decline in sales and profits as it was forced into making operational changes to satisfy higher levels of online trading during the pandemic.

The company, founded 50 years ago by Alexander Irwin and which has a long history in manufacturing, has a trading year which runs until the end of September, so its latest financials take in the first six months of the Covid lockdown.

The results show a loss before tax of £443,629 compared to a profit of £977,394 in 2019, which came on a reduced turnover of £29.7 million (down from £36.1m the year before).

But the directors, led by brothers Gary and Andrew Irwin, insist the business has continued to be resilient and has delivered "adequate" results for the period post year-end.

In a report with its results filed at Companies House, they said: "We phased the re-opening of our stores from the first week in June, and all stores were operating fully in the run-up to the latest lockdown in December.

"We recognised a change in buying habits, and are continually adapting operationally to meet the needs of our customers.

"Our people have been remarkable in their response to the challenges of Covid-19, and the seamless fashion in which they have supported our customers."

The directors added that as well as utilising the furlough scheme, additional measures taken to mitigate potential losses and protect cash flow included the suspension of all non-essential costs, a reduction in capital expenditure to only strategic and maintenance projects, and increased working capital monitoring.

As well as a 5,000 sq ft trade showroom at its head office in Magheralin near Lurgan, Bedeck runs around 80 stores and in-shop concessions in Northern Ireland and Britain, including in its flagship Belfast store on the Lisburn Road, which will reopen to the public next Friday when non-essential retail is permitted to trade again.

Bedeck also confirmed that it has entered into a product licensing agreement with global lifestyle brand Ted Baker plc to create their bedding and towels collections.

The three-year agreement will see Bedeck work in collaboration with the Ted Baker creative team to develop the ranges. The contract will commence next January, with the first collection launching shortly thereafter.

Within the UK, the new collections will be distributed through Bedeck’s wholesale network across department stores, speciality home stores, independent retailers and website as well as the Ted Baker online platform.

Bedeck will also expand international sales via distribution partners in countries including Australia, the Netherlands and Germany, with potential to expand further, and it expects the addition of the Ted Baker brand will help sales to grow by up to 15 per cent.

The accounts also show that staff numbers at Bedeck fell back slight to 309 last year, with the company's wages bill coming in at just under £6 million. Its highest-paid director earned £177,159.


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