Winter storm Desmond blasted the profits of county supermarket Booths leaving it with a £6.3m pre-tax loss.
Devastating flooding at its stores in Keswick and Kirkby Lonsdale, plus falling food prices and costs to do with closures of old stores and the opening of new ones, left the firm feeling the winter chill.
It remains a very challenging retail market, but as ever, when the going gets tough, Booths gets tougher
This time last year the up-market grocer posted a profit of £1.1m. This year operating profits also fell from £3.1m to £2.6m and turnover dropped from £278.6m to £276.6m.
The firm closed its popular Highfield Road store in Marton, where it has applied to build 22 houses and a convenience store, along with stores at Normoss, Ansdell, Torrishiolme and Lane Ends in Preston.
But it opened new stores in St Annes and Poulton as well as at Hale Barns in Cheshire and Burscough.
Booths CEO, Chris Dee, said: “It remains a very challenging retail market, but as ever, when the going gets tough, Booths gets tougher. Booths has been a resilient business for 170 years, and very much remains so today.”
“Our teams have coped admirably in a year of enormous operational change, we’ve closed stores, opened modern new stores, we’ve restructured our management teams and the business came together to rise to the challenges of delivering 2015 Christmas in the face of some of the worst flooding on record.”
He said projected 2016 Christmas sales offer brighter news for Booths. The launch in early October of their Great Northern Christmas Book, shows early signs of success with a 30 per cent rise in Christmas pre orders versus figures this time last year.
Booths have ambitious targets to double the sales of own label Booth Brand products over the next five years and have a rolling calendar of New Produce Development for the next 18 months.
He added: “Selling top quality produce served by first class assistants was the aim of the our founder Edwin Booth; that 1847 formula still works for us in increasingly competitive markets.”