LUXURY paint and wallpaper maker Farrow & Ball says lockdown has seen the best results in its 75-year history as people turned their attention to home improvements.

After already reporting record revenue for the year to the end of March 2020, the Dorset company said the first quarter of the new financial year had seen trade grow “exponentially”.

Sales in the last financial year were up 4.1 per cent to £87million, with online sales up 14 per cent to £8.7m. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization grew 10 per cent to £24.2m.

But the company reported a pre-tax loss of £26.9m after charges on group loans. It said this "reflects how the business is structured and financed rather than being illustrative of performance".

The Ferndown-based company sells its products in 60 of its own stores and through 1,673 other stockists. Web sales grew 14 per cent, making the internet its highest growth channel for a third year running.

Its profile in the US was boosted after Farrow & Ball paints were chosen for the reopening of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and featured in a sketch on the TV comedy Saturday Night Live.

Chief executive Anthony Davey said: “At a time where our homes have become increasingly important, we are proud of the role we can play in helping consumers enjoy the space they are spending so much time in.

“Our ability to adapt digitally and continue to deliver for our customers has meant that we can connect and engage with our audience to fulfil their interest in the brand.

“As we start the new financial year navigating the challenges that Covid-19 brings, we continue to be absolutely focused on delivering an outstanding brand experience across our channels so that our consumers can feel confident in transforming their homes.”

He added: “We were on a strong sales trend before lockdown and since lockdown, our business has grown exponentially. In Q1 of this year, we delivered the best results in Farrow & Ball’s 75-year history with the UK (our most mature market) up approximately 30 per cent. The results are a mix of heightened interest in the category, new product improvements, our colour consultancy service and a strong social media and e-commerce presence.

“Not surprisingly a lot of the early growth came via online sales, which were up tenfold at one point.”

He said of the lockdown period: “As people turned their attention to home décor, they sought advice and inspiration from trusted internet sources, in very, very large numbers. Farrow & Ball’s social media engagement rocketed.

“Our total online followers crossed the two million mark with more than one million followers on Instagram alone, which is a 42 per cent increase. At its peak, we had 73,000 visitors a day to our website.”