Savings and voucher group will “emerge strongly” from coronavirus crisis

Appreciate Group CEO Ian O'Doherty

Trading has improved since the year end at Appreciate Group, the Liverpool-based rewards vouchers to Christmas hampers business.

In its year-end trading update on April 30, it revealed that “demand in our corporate and other consumer areas is approximately 70% below last year” due to the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

But today, in another update, it said it has seen trading gradually improve in the new financial year. Total billings have started to recover. They were down 47% year-on-year in May, and 35% down in June to give a year to date position of 48%.

In the previous update the group said its Christmas Savings business was currently 10% below the prior year and that “current cancellation rates (for the Christmas Savings business) are similar to previous years”. Today, it said this has remained the case.

However, Appreciate said it anticipates improved trading in the coming months and as lockdown is further eased.

Appreciate’s board has reviewed a range of financial scenarios of the potential impact of COVID-19 on the business and, in each of those scenarios, the group retains positive free cash this financial year.

Total billings are currently marginally ahead of the mid-range scenario and, as at the end of June, free cash stood at £18.8m.

The said it it aims to announce its final results for the year ended March 31, on August 12.

Chief executive, Ian O’Doherty, said: “We have seen a gradual recovery in trading, and we anticipate that this will continue as we move further away from the initial shock of lockdown.

“We have a clear strategy focused on a switch to digital products which will enable us to take advantage of the long-term behavioural changes that COVID-19 is driving.

“We have a solid financial position and are confident that we will emerge strongly from this crisis.”