UK homewares retailer Dunelm has reported a 4.5% increase in total sales, reaching £872.5m ($1.05bn) in the first half (H1) of fiscal year 2024 (FY24), compared with £835m recorded in H1 FY23. 

Digital sales have notably contributed to this growth and now represent 36% of the total sales, a two-percentage-point increase from H1 FY23. 

For the 26 weeks leading up to 30 December 2023, Dunelm’s profit before tax (PBT) saw a 4.8% increase to £123m, up from £117m in the first half of 2023. 

The retailer posted a 2.6% decrease in diluted earnings per share, which was reported at 44.6p in H1 FY24, down from 45.8p in the same quarter of the previous year.  

Dunelm achieved a gross margin improvement of 160 basis points, attributed to promotional discipline while continuing to offer value to customers. 

Operating costs as a ratio of sales for H1 FY24 were 38.1%, an increase of 150 basis points from 36.6% in H1 FY23. 

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Dunelm has maintained a tight operational grip on costs, with inflationary impacts partly offset by efficiency gains. 

The retailer committed to investing in increasing its broad appeal while maintaining a tight operational grip.  

The company’s PBT expectations for the full year 2024 are unchanged and align with market predictions between £199m and £207m. 

Dunelm CEO Nick Wilkinson said: “In the past six months we have kept our customers front of mind, ensuring our broad offer has value at its core whilst also expanding our ranges, introducing new styles and improving the experience across our store and digital channels. 

“This has been particularly important in a more difficult trading environment and has resulted in another strong sales performance combined with market share gains.  

“Despite ongoing pressures on consumers, we are encouraged by the wide variety of new customers shopping with Dunelm, and existing shoppers also coming back more frequently. Alongside the positive sales performance, we have delivered a very strong gross margin, which is testament to our tight operational control and the inherent strength of our business model.”