John Bell & Croyden’s latest accounts confirm that managing director Robin Winfield’s mission to claw back the company’s investment in its central London outlet is paying off.
The Royal Warrant-holding pharmacy and mobility retailer shifted nearly £11m of product in the year ended March 2017 – a 20% increase on last year – while almost doubling its gross profit, according to accounts filed with Companies House this week.
Winfield told AMP two months ago that his plans to recuperate the store investment were ‘going very well so far’, and now the company’s latest report shows operating profit rose to £736,000 after a loss in the previous trading period, incurred by the store refit.
New sales channels like Amazon prime and a reinforced online presence have driven growth in addition to a 60% surge in NHS sales.
But one of the main impacts has come from the new shop layout, which is now more department store than pharmacy and which has completely overhauled how mobility products are sold. Winfield has attempted to shift customers’ perceptions on mobility showing them that products can still be fun.
The initiatives are designed to draw in previously sceptical customers who have been put off by ‘traditional mobility shops’. One scheme has been to install the rear half of a Jaguar onto a wall so that customers can try loading different folding boot scooters.
John Bell & Croyden also has on show a range of extravagant aids including a £45,000 gold plated, Swarovski adorned Sport Rider scooter and crystal-encrusted walking canes. But far from being simply a novel, impractical product they are intended to act as a tool to show customers John Bell & Croyden’s approach to mobility. They have proved a strong marketing asset for the company.
In an interview with AMP, Winfield said: “Mobility can still be fun, it can make you smile, it can be modern, it can be flash, it can be sexy.
“Some of those products are not to everyone’s taste, we understand that, but it wasn’t about that. Because you’re in a mobility scooter it doesn’t mean you want to have fun any less than anybody else. Everybody always talks about the scooters we have and they smile, because it is quite funny and it is at the extreme end of the scale.”
In the latest report the directors stated that John Bell & Croyden continues to be a key flagship for parent company Celesio.
“Going forward the store is looking to strengthen its position in the prestige pharmacy market and expand its online presence,” they said.