Monsoon admits mistakes

MONSOON, the underperforming women's fashion retailer chaired by Peter Simon, reported its first fall in profits for 13 years yesterday alongside a poor Christmas trading statement which showed sales declines accelerating, writes Nigel Cope.

The news pushed Monsoon shares down 9p to 46.5p, their lowest level since the company's flotation in February last year. Priced at 198p on flotation the shares have now lost three-quarters of their value in 12 months. The company admitted it had made mistakes with its merchandise range and the presentation of its stores.

The company said it had beefed up its design team and would improve its merchandise ranges. It said customer research had also showed that it stores contained too much stock and were therefore "difficult to shop" for its target audience of busy working women. It will therefore be simplifying product ranges. Monsoon is also launching a shoes range in 20 stores and a homewares range in 33 outlets focusing on bed linen and bathroom products.

In the six months to November profits fell 20 per cent to pounds 11.8m on sales up 8 per cent to pounds 66.1m. Same stores sales in the half year were 6 per cent down on the year. Since November however the performance has worsened with like for like sales down by 9 per cent.

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