Formerly Park Group, Liverpool-based Appreciate has moved on from its original Christmas hampers model to become a digitally-focused gifting, rewards and savings business. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool-based gifting and rewards business, Appreciate Group, has revealed a 42% rise in year-on-year billings during December – its best ever month.
Until 2019, Appreciate was known as Park Group and began life in the 1960s as a Christmas savings and hampers club. It grew out of the Birkenhead butchers shop owned by the family of the business founder, Peter Johnson.
Last year, it announced its hampers business was to end as it focused more on its increasingly digital financial services operations. It also disposed of its former Wirral headquarter for £3.2m after moving its 270 staff into 20 Chapel Street in Liverpool city centre.
In a trading update on Tuesday, stock market-listed Appreciate, reported group billings between October 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020 were up by 13.1% to £96.3m. The company’s focus on developing its digital proposition during the year helped boost digital sales by almost four-fold to £22.5m over the same three-month period compared to 2019.
Consumer billings via Highstreetvouchers.com were up 36% versus the same quarter in 2019, including a 38 per cent rise in December alone. Corporate – or business – sales rose by 12% between October and December 2020.
This included a 42% rise in December driven by businesses rewarding employees as an alternative to Christmas parties; and record levels of business from new clients. Chief executive Ian O’Doherty, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to deliver such a strong performance during our important peak trading period.
“As a seasonal business, the group’s performance has reflected the swing to profitability that we typically see in the second half of the financial year. The acceleration of our strategy to strengthen our digital capability has ensured a performance well ahead of last year during the last three months of 2020.
“We saw our busiest ever month in December. Our Corporate performance has been enhanced by companies seeking ways to reward their hard-working employees as an alternative to traditional Christmas parties.”
Appreciate has also repaid all funds utilised from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in December.