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Local loyalty boost for Bennetts

PUBLISHED: 09:07 16 January 2009 | UPDATED: 14:56 07 July 2010

Savvy shoppers holding out for bargains and customer loyalty to an East Anglian brand have been credited with sparking a post-Christmas surge in sales at electrical retailer Bennetts, which has a branch in Dereham.

SAVVY shoppers holding out for bargains and customer loyalty to an East Anglian brand have been credited with sparking a post-Christmas surge in sales at electrical retailer Bennetts, which has a branch in Dereham.

Bennetts saw sales rise by 12.6pc on Boxing Day alone compared to the same day in 2007 - and sales are up by 5pc since the turn of the year.

The firm's internet sales doubled in December compared to the same month in 2007 in the wake of a revamp of Bennetts' online website.

Bennetts' strong performance came in marked contrast to results published last week by DSG International, the owner of Currys and PC World.

DSG said sales for the three months ending January 10 had dropped by 10pc - albeit there

were more optimistic signs in the last fortnight, when sales rose by 2pc.

Mike Jones, Bennetts' managing director, said there were signs that consumers had held back their pre-Christmas spending in the hope of bargains to come.

But he added that the trading figures also showed the "resilience" of Norfolk's market towns, particularly Diss, Dereham, where Bennetts has a branch in Yaxham Road, and Cromer.

Ironically, the multi-billion-pound bail-outs for the banks and stock market falls of the late summer failed to dent performance at Bennetts' annual "Hi-tech Show" at the Royal Norfolk Showground in October, with sales up 15pc on the event in 2007.

But Mr Jones warned that the impact of the cut in interest rates on savers and the effect of stock market uncertainty and falls on pension funds would begin to be felt in the coming months.

"I think February and March will be difficult months, but I'm optimistic that our sales will hold up - we've a very loyal customer base," Mr Jones said.

"But I don't think anyone should underestimate the effect the economic climate will have, when some of the things happening now have yet to permeate through.

"Whether Easter gives a glimmer of light remains to be seen."

Bennetts has 14 high street stores, employs about 450 people and has an annual turnover in excess of £70m.

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