Executive responsibility:

Customer Director

Link to foundations:

Committed colleagues, efficient store estate, agile and scalable technology, data-driven decision making

Link to principal risks:

Competition, market and customers, people and culture

Our targets:

  • Grow active customer base by 2 million between FY19 and FY23.
  • Exceed previous year’s charitable funds raised by at least 10%.

Our commitment

Our purpose is to help everyone create a home they love, and our commitment to customers is embedded in our customer proposition, which was updated in 2020. We also aim to be good neighbours and make a difference in the communities in which we trade, and we know that this matters to our shareholders, customers and colleagues alike.

About our customers and communities

Under normal trading circumstances, we have over 5 million visits across our 173 stores and website each week. Meaningful engagement with our communities through social media channels and local activities, alongside the development of relevant product ranges and services, help drive brand awareness and increase our unique active customer base, with these rising by 2.0%pts and 1.3%pts respectively during the year.

Covid-19 impact and learnings

During the Covid-19 crisis our stores closed to customers for at least seven weeks and we only re-opened them when we felt it was safe to do so for customers and colleagues. While our stores were closed to customers, we witnessed a significant increase in online purchases, with more people using our home delivery services, as well as our contactless Click & Collect offer, which we were able to provide safely in advance of stores fully re-opening. Shopping behaviour and attitudes changed, and we are monitoring these trends to ensure that our product range and services continue to meet customer demand.

The way we communicated with our customers and communities during the Covid-19 crisis also changed. We learned rapidly the importance of having a ‘voice’ in our local communities and how our customers and colleagues benefitted from meaningful community initiatives. This experience will profoundly affect the way we engage with customers and communities in the future. We expand on some of our learnings below, alongside updates on previously announced initiatives which we share in the context of our evolving customer proposition.


Products that offer choice, value, quality and style

Our commitment to customers includes product range improvements that meet their choice, value, quality and style criteria. During the year we refreshed approximately 10% of our product range, including designs and prints exclusive to Dunelm. We also developed ranges with more recyclable content and from more sustainable sources. During the Covid-19 crisis, people’s homes adapted to become offices, gyms, restaurants and communication hubs. Our customers invested more time on DIY projects, learning new skills and upcycling. Our products and ‘how to’ guides played an important role during this period and we will continue to focus on these ‘home essentials’ based on our customer insight.

Services that help – from inspiration to delivery to fitting

Enhancing our online customer experience

In October 2019 we launched our new digital platform which allowed us to provide a more user-friendly browsing and shopping experience on our website, and better delivery options to improve customer choice and convenience. This major investment in digital resource proved critical during the Covid-19 crisis, allowing us to continue to serve our customers and generate revenue. Planned improvements to browsing and transaction speeds were fast-tracked during this time, enabled by the agility and empowerment of colleagues – particularly our Digital team.

Expanding customer services

We developed new customer services to keep our customers safe as they returned to our stores, and more convenient options for those staying at home. We introduced clear in-store social distancing and hygiene measures, and a contactless store-to-car service for Click & Collect orders. We trialled and rolled out interactive video technology, allowing customers to access personal shopping and personalised advice on made-to-measure curtains and blinds without leaving their homes.

Developing store formats

In 2019/20 we continued to develop our store formats and in-store concepts to inspire our customers. As well as refitting six of our older stores in our latest formats, at the end of May 2020 we opened a smaller-sized edit high street store in Crawley, which has dedicated Live, Sleep, Eat and Work/Do zones and gives customers access to interactive and augmented reality technology. We are monitoring sales and footfall to evaluate future roll out opportunities.

Experiences that are friendly, local, helpful and build relationships

Building local relationships

During the Covid-19 crisis our colleagues set up 173 Facebook groups in their communities and these evolved organically. At the outset, our colleagues used social media to help organise local initiatives to help the NHS, care homes and support vulnerable individuals – involving over 7,000 customer volunteers; then to understand local customer and colleague sentiment about re-opening stores. These groups are now thriving communities which balance the activity between community – generating great conversations with our customers and colleagues – and commerce, where we talk about our products, offers and offer local customer care. This instant connection between colleagues and customers is building stronger emotional ties and more meaningful awareness of the Dunelm brand in our communities. We now have over 152,000 social media followers on our community groups, growing organically by around 5,000 followers every week. We aim to appoint colleague ambassadors as trusted voices, empowering them to run community networks more formally.

Understanding our local audiences

We also learned that our customers want a personalised, authentic experience with communication that relates directly to them and the rhythm of their home. For these reasons we are focusing on creating and hosting local events with meaning in the community, working with faces and names people know and trust. This will also allow us to represent the social and ethnic diversity in our local communities more accurately and meaningfully.

Fundraising and charities

Although earlier in the year we were on track to raise a record sum for our chosen charities, unfortunately, some of our regular fundraising activities – such as the donation of proceeds from plastic bag sales and cups of tea in our Pausa cafes to Macmillan Cancer Support and Groundwork – were negatively impacted by store closures. However, we continued to support our Group charity partner, Macmillan Cancer Support, through remote colleague fundraising and live events on our community groups, and we have agreed to make an additional corporate donation to Macmillan Cancer Support of £105,000 to make up the shortfall. As mentioned above, our colleagues looked for other opportunities to ‘give back’ to their communities – making over 40,000 personal protection equipment items for the NHS and supporting local hospitals, care homes and schools with hampers and essential items. We will place greater emphasis on local community-based charitable activities in the future.

Performance against targets




Why this measure is important

  • It demonstrates the Group’s commitment to supporting charities and events close to the hearts of our colleagues and communities.

2019/20 performance

  • Early in the year we were on track to exceed our target of a 10% year-on-year increase. However, as our stores and support sites were closed for between seven and fourteen weeks/three months respectively, we were unable to undertake some of our regular fundraising activity. As a result we did not meet our target. However, as part of our commitment to ‘be a good company’, we have agreed to make an additional company cash contribution of £105,000 to Macmillan Cancer Support to make up the shortfall. Therefore the total value of cash charitable donations made by the Group in the period ended 27 June 2020 was £241,000 (2019: £175,000). Total funds raised for charity by the Group and colleagues were £638,000 (2019: £580,000). In addition the Group donated goods with a retail value of £74,000 as part of our support to the NHS and local communities throughout the crisis.




Why this measure is important

  • We use this metric to measure the acceleration of growth in our active customer base and therefore our ability to reach new customers. This measure combines our active store and online customers.

2019/20 performance

  • Year-on-year growth in unique active customers* was 1.3%. Our growth was impacted by our store closures but we are still on track to meet our FY23 target of growing our base by 2 million over five years. Growth in unique active customers was running at 8.8% as at February 2020, on a rolling twelve-month basis.

*Unique active customers who have shopped in the last 12 months, based on management estimates using Barclays data.

What’s next for 2020/21

  • Building further customer insight through our dedicated Data Insight team, to help us provide products and services that meet our customers’ needs.
  • Monitoring new services and continuing to develop new ways of shopping and engaging with our customers.
  • Increasing customer and community engagement activity at the local store level through social media and colleague activity.
  • Focusing on local charities and hosting events ‘with meaning’ in and with our communities.
  • Evolving our advertising campaigns to ensure they are relevant and meaningful to our customers, and building on the Home of Homes campaign featuring Dunelm families.
  • Evaluating our edit store format to establish rollout potential.


Supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis

We supported the NHS by using our manufacturing centre to make surgical gowns at cost for two hospital trusts, and child-friendly masks for the children’s ward at a Leicester hospital. We donated furniture to the family room at London’s Nightingale hospital and gave NHS employees a 15% discount via the Blue Light app. Our colleagues took the initiative to volunteer and coordinate volunteers in their communities to make and distribute wash bags and scrubs for NHS workers and social carers.



Community policies

Our approach to charity contributions

We have focused on driving colleague and customer engagement with a number of charitable activities to ensure we are giving back as much as possible. Each store also has a ‘Charity Champion’ and more autonomy will be given to local stores to work with their own local charities. Amounts raised by store are reported monthly, and the best-performing stores are featured regularly in Company-wide communications.

Carrier bag sales

All proceeds from carrier bag sales are donated to charity – in England and Scotland to Macmillan Cancer Support, and in Wales to Groundwork, a charitable organisation which aims to create more green spaces and get people back into work through creating green jobs.

Donation matching

We support colleagues who are raising money for charities of their choice, by matching the sums raised by a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Charity days

All colleagues are entitled to, and are encouraged to take, an extra day’s paid leave to undertake charitable activities either individually, or as a team.