Feelgood factor eludes retailers
Friday 26 April 1996
Only DFS Furniture, the out- of-town specialist, managed to buck the trend with a 16 per cent rise in profits to pounds 15m at the half-year stage. Recently knighted chairman Sir Graham Kirkham also unveiled an expansion programme that will see DFS open stores in London for the first time this year. Stores in Croydon, Sidcup and New Malden will open by July.
"We are not budgeting for any upturn but if there is any improvement we will be able to take advantage," he said.
Etam said the market remained "difficult" and the 226- strong chain has seen sales decline in recent weeks as its customers continue to seek discounted merchandise. However, Austin Reed is seeing a glimmer of recovery with sales in the last 12 weeks 8.6 per cent higher than the same period last year.
Finance director Chris Thomson, who takes over as Austin Reed's chief executive in June, said: "I think there are some encouraging signs that customers are coming back to the high street. I'm not sure it's a feelgood factor. It's just less of a feelbad factor."
Austin Reed saw pre-exceptional profits slump from pounds 5.8m to pounds 3.4m due to a poor year in its womenswear division. The company moved from its traditional tailored look to a more fashion-conscious offer but found it unpopular with customers. The stores had to discount the stock to clear it. This year the company has returned to more formal, structured suits and says sales are responding.
Menswear performed better though margins were affected by higher marketing costs. Austin Reed has opened a shop under the Marlboro Classics name at Heathrow's Terminal One in the last few weeks. Trading is strong and more may be added.
Mr Thomson played down speculation that the company may be taken over by Moss Bros, Burton or Next. "We have received no approaches or expressions of interest," he said. However, he confirmed that he had twice been asked by the Stock Exchange if any approaches had been made after recent sharp increases in the Austin Reed share price.
Etam's tale of woe continued as it attempts to move away from a culture of permanent discounting. Reporting a dramatic slump in profits from pounds 10.7m to pounds 152,000 for the six months to 31 January, Etam warned that it was likely to record operating losses higher than the pounds 660,000 deficit reported in the first half last year. This is due to sluggish sales of "inadequate" merchandise which have further been depressed by attempts to sell at closer to full price.
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 3 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Sir David Attenborough interview: The one question about life that still baffles him
Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...
Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...
£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...