A family business has hit more than one million sales a year and seen turnover soar as bored Brits spent the past year - getting stuck into jigsaws.

David Wavre worked in publishing before launching A Great Read in 2007, after being inspired by book clubs and growth in e-commerce.

At first it sold books, but as the pandemic struck, the company diversified by selling board games, jigsaw puzzles and colouring books for children and adults.

The Westbury firm increased its range of children’s educational books to support home-schooling.

And in the face of online behemoths that dominate the market A Great Read has seen its website turnover rise by 139 per cent.

David said: “Like everyone else, we didn’t know what would happen when lockdown hit and whether we would have to stop operating. But online retailers could continue and with people needing entertainment, orders more than doubled in a week. We saw huge website growth and it helped us enormously.

“With this came various expenses. We needed to hire more staff and have doubled our warehouse size, but we also had to improve the technology. We needed new servers and increased our defence against online threats.

“At one stage, shortly after improving our computer system, we had 200 orders in five minutes. This is something that we would have struggled to cope with before.”

A Great Read also recorded a spike in customers buying cooking books to bring Mediterranean and Asian holiday cuisines to their own dinner table. Demand for domestic travel books has also risen.

David added: “We have also seen an increase in sales of books on psychology, economics and psychotherapy, along with people buying books about the pandemic.

“We have expanded our offering and we’ve seen huge interest in jigsaws for adults. After watching all the box sets, they’re looking for something new to keep them entertained and they’re buying 2,000 and 5,000 piece jigsaws.”

To deal with the growth, the firm, which employs 25 people, took over a large vacant warehouse next door increasing capacity to almost 30,000 sq ft.

But there have been challenges. Due to increased freight charges caused by Covid and new regulations on exporting to Europe, it has almost entirely stopped selling outside the UK.

In 2020, the company saw its turnover increase from £4.5m to £7m and despite the impact on overseas sales, the hope is for a similar figure next year - or £10 if overseas costs fall.

Its success has been highlighted bySME loan platform Funding Circle. David used it to access a Recovery Loan Scheme loan towards improving the firm's premises, expanding marketing and increasing staff numbers.

Lisa Jacobs, Funding Circle’s UK managing director, said: “Like many small businesses, David and his team at A Great Read have demonstrated their resilience and ability to adapt to the challenges of the last eighteen months.

“It’s exciting to see their plans to expand and grow. We’re pleased to have helped them access the finance they needed to invest in their future.”