Customers "falling back in love with their homes and gardens" during the pandemic contributed to pre-tax profits at the Irish arm of Homebase last year almost doubling to €8.09m.

That is according to new accounts for Homebase firm HHGL (ROI) Ltd, where revenues last year increased by 12%; rising from €47.18m to €52.83m.

Pre-tax profits increased by 89%, from €4.2m in 2019 to €8.09m last year, and the 2019 profit was inflated by an exceptional gain of €5.27m.

The home improvement and garden product retailer operates 10 outlets here and its physical stores were shut for eight weeks during the first lockdown, with trading taking place online for the majority of that period.

"Upon re-opening, Homebase stores in May 2020, customer demand was strong in key ranges and remained so for most of the year, with customers falling back in love with their homes and gardens," the accounts say

They state that range development over the past two years of the turnaround meant that the company was well placed to help customers improve their living spaces with over 5,500 products launched in 2020.

The directors state that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) before exceptional items of €8.4m for 2020 compared to a €1m loss in 2019 and the result "marks the conclusion of the management team's turnaround strategy that started in June 2018 and the beginning of a three year growth plan".

The directors state that the company and employees have worked tirelessly in 2020 to react and adapt to the ever-changing environment and, as a result, the planned growth and turnaround has been achieved.

The directors state that the like-for-like sales increase of 20.9% for 2020 reflect the very positive customer response to the new ranges and improvements in shop-keeping.

Homebase Ireland last year received €874,000 in Government Covid-19 wage subsidy supports.

The directors state that, along with accessing the Covid-19 wage subsidy supports, the company also availed of business rates relief totalling €700,000.

They state the collective support from these schemes was used to offset the significant impact and losses from the temporary closure of all Homebase stores during the park period.

The directors add that the schemes also offset incremental costs due to the pandemic including the multi-million pound green-life stock write-offs due to the store closures, with this product donated to charities and good causes.

On the performance of the business in 2021 the directors state that, despite the national lockdown at the beginning of the year, the company has been able to meet the budget it set.

The directors state that the new three year plan includes new store openings.

Homebase Ireland last year recorded its profits after taking into account a €1.2m write down in stock and lease costs of €5.88m.

Numbers employed reduced from 362 to 304, due mainly to one store closure at Fonthill, Dublin. Staff costs reduced from €7.03m to €6.1m.