Crisis? What crisis? The ten retailers defying the gloom

Consumers are tightening their belts like never before. But some retailers are still shifting their products. James Thompson finds out how


Iceland Foods

Who are they?
The UK's biggest frozen food retailer with more than 670 stores in the UK.

Did you know?
Asked what is driving its sales growth, founder and chief executive Malcolm Walker often responds by saying, "bloody superb management". He also likes to say that price wars are a "load of bollocks", as other grocers offset price cuts with price rises elsewhere.

Performance
Iceland has delivered double-digit like-for-like sales growth each quarter for the past three years and a quarter, according to Mr Walker. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for its last financial year to the end of March was understood to be not less than £130m.

Why are they doing well?
UK consumers are still fond of their frozen food and like the chain's simple rounded pricing, such as £2, and product offers.

Burberry

Who are they?
Burberry is a luxury fashion brand that is sold in its branded stores, franchises and through concessions in third-party stores.

Did you know?
Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts has moved the retailer's image away from chavs and celebs such as former EastEnders actor Danniella Westbrook, who clothed herself and her daughter head-to-toe in the Burberry check.

Performance
For the year ending 31 March, Burberry grew pre-tax profit by 25 per cent to £195.7m. Sales by jumped by 18 per cent to £995.4m.

Why are they doing well?
Well-heeled customers are still splashing the cash on Bur-berry clothing. It is also a global brand that generates only a small proportion of its sales in the domestic market.

Asos (asSeenonScreen)

Who are they?
A fashion specialist which could become the UK's largest online retailer of clothing in the next 12 months, overtaking market leaders Next.

Did you know?
Asos will launch a clearance section, Asos Red, for about 20 brands later this year.

Performance
For the year ended 31 March, Asos ramped up its pre-tax profits by 117 per cent to £7.3m and grew sales by 90 per cent to £81m.

Why are they doing well?
Asos customers, many of whom are young and don't have mortgages, love the features and burgeoning brands on its site, as online retailing continues to power ahead of the high street.

Mothercare

Who are they?
Mothercare, which has more than 500 stores in 48 countries, specialises in maternity wear and products for children.

Did you know?
The retailer launched a social networking site for parents, Gurgle, this year that has 45,000 registered users.

Performance
For the 52 weeks to 29 March, Mothercare generated group sales up 35.8 per cent to £676.8m. Group underlying pre-tax profits leapt 70.8 per cent to £38.6m, excluding exceptional items such as those related to its acquisition, Early Learning Centre.

Why are they doing well?
Even during a downturn people still have kids and spend on them. Mothercare is growing internationally, has a strong internet presence and is tweaking its UK store portfolio to better suit its 2007 acquisition of Early Learning Centre.

Aldi (short for Albrecht Discount)

Who are they?
Founded in 1913, Aldi is a discount supermarket, based in Germany, which has 427 stores in the UK and Ireland. Aldi is to spend £1.5bn over the next five years building a new store each week and ultimately wants to have 1,500 in the UK and Ireland.

Did you know?
Aldi offers a starting salary of £40,000 – which rises to £57,750 after three years, plus a fully expensed Audi A4, for those on its area manager graduate training programme.

Performance......... 
UK sales rose by 12.1 per cent to £1.3bn for the year to 31 December.

Why are they doing well?
The credit crunch and rising food price inflation are driving a growing army of UK shoppers, including the middle classes, to Aldi. The discounter has a growing reputation for the quality of its products, of which nearly 100 per cent are own label.

Poundland

Who are they?
A discount retailer with about 160 stores in the UK. All products are sold for £1.

Performance
Pre-tax profits increased to £5.6m in the year to 1 April 2007, compared with £4.2m the year before. Sales increased to £310.7m for the 52 weeks to 1 April, rising from £281.2m the previous year.

Did you know?
It is considering launching overseas once it has reached 650 stores in the UK.

Why is it doing well?
More hard-pressed customers are visiting its stores for bargains, bulk buying items such as toothpaste and tinned food.

Lidl

Who are they?
Discount German retailer with about 400 stores in the UK.

Did you know?
Lidl is not an abbreviation, but the last name of Ludwig Lidl, a retired teacher. In 1930, Josef Schwarz became a partner in Südfrüchte Grosshandel Lidl & Co, a fruit wholesaler, which he developed into a food wholesaler.

Performance
For the 12 weeks ending 15 June 2008, Lidl posted sales up 12.8 per cent, according to TNS Worldpanel.

Why are they doing well?
Lidl is attracting a wide variety of cost-conscious customers, who use it for a full-weekly shop or to top up purchases from other grocers. They also have a varying range of non-food items.

Matalan

Who are they?
Matalan is a discount clothing and homewares retailer, which has about 190 stores in the UK.

Did you know?
Matalan founder John Hargreaves set up the first Matalan store in Preston in 1985 after discovering the out-of-town retail US concept selling a wide range of food and non-food products at low prices in the Seventies.

Performance
For the 53 weeks ending 1 March, Matalan delivered a 89.3 per cent uplift in pre-tax profits to £53.2m, despite a 1.4 per cent slip in sales to £1.01bn.

Why are they doing well?
Matalan has invested more than £18m in its store portfolio and has launched new brands and reintroduced branded sportswear.

Halfords

Who are they?
Car accessories-to-bike retailer Halfords has 433 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, and two in the Czech Republic.

Did you know?
In June, Halfords hired Wal-Mart and Tesco veteran David Wild as its chief executive.

Performance
For the year to 28 March, Halfords delivered pre-tax profits up 11.5 per cent to £90.2m and total sales soared by 7.2 per cent to £797.4m.

Why are they doing well?
The average transaction value is only £20. The retailer says that many customers are also hanging onto their cars longer, which pushes sales of accessories, and some are embracing a healthier and greener lifestyle by purchasing more bikes.

Primark

Who are they?
A subsidiary of Associated British Foods, discount fashion giant Primark is the UK's second-largest retailer of clothing, based on volumes, behind Marks & Spencer. Founder and executive chairman Arthur Ryan opened its first Penneys (which is Primark's trading name in Ireland) store in Dublin in 1969.

Did you know?
Shoppers fought and scrambled over prostrate bodies to be the first inside Primark's Oxford Street flagship store when it opened in April 2007. The scenes were exacerbated by false rumours of a sale but Primark often gets snaking queues for store opening in the UK.

Performance
For the 24 weeks to 1 March, Primark increased sales by 25 per cent to £899m and operating profit jumped 22 per cent to £111m.

Why are they doing well?
Even before the credit crunch, shoppers had fallen for Primark's cheap, chic fashion, such as tops for £3 inspired by designer labels, which have earned it the nickname Primarni.

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