Retail group Very achieved record revenues of £2.3 billion last year.

The firm, which operates online brands, and, now has almost five million total customers after a more than 12% increase at – which now has 4m – in the year ended 3rd July 2021.

Retail sales for the period were up 25% to £1.5bn, driving 13% group revenue growth, while group profit before tax was £81.7m, up 68.8% on the prior year. 

The company, which returned to profit last year, highlighted its app sales, up 45% year-on-year and “boosted by a more personalised, intuitive app experience”, as well as its AI-powered chatbot, Very Assistant.

Very Assistant now handles 268,000 queries a month after being added to the Very website and is now the company’s largest customer service channel.

The firm’s executive team has been bolstered with the appointment of former BBC technology director Matt Grest as chief information officer. Robbie Feather, former CEO of Fenwick, is set to join the business as retail managing director before the end of the year.

“I am pleased to report outstanding Group performance, including record revenue, continued profit growth and strong cashflow generation,” said group CEO Henry Birch.

“Whether working remotely, educating and entertaining the kids, updating their homes or simply wanting to look and feel good, we’ve given millions of families the items they need via an extensive range of flexible payment products. 

“We’ve done this while moving our company forward operationally and strategically, from continuous digital customer experience improvements and developing our Very Pay platform to extending next day delivery cut off thanks to our highly automated fulfilment centre.

“I am most proud, however, of our colleagues. Through their dedication, adaptability and ingenuity, they consistently delivered for our customers while adjusting to new ways of working, with many facing personal tests.

“The current environment is not without challenge, but our pandemic experience has shown us that our multi-category offer, combining leading brands with our Very Pay platform, is relevant to an increasingly wide number of customers. 

“We are in good shape to face any future uncertainty, and remain confident that we are well positioned to take advantage of a market and customer behaviour that is moving towards our model.”