Fat Face sets sights on being big in America


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The Independent Online

The high street fashion chain Fat Face, chaired by the former Marks & Spencer boss Lord Rose, is set to take on its biggest challenge yet by trying to break into the US.

Fresh from recovering after a failed stock market listing last year, the company is planning to open its first US store in Portland, Maine, in November and a second, also on the east coast, by the end of the year.

The expansion plans came as the company announced a 2.7 per cent rise in sales to £205.4m in the year to the end of May, although Fat Face increased its selling space by 8 per cent during the year.

Underlying pre-tax profits were down 7.1 per cent to £39.3m due to unseasonably warm weather last autumn and £9m spent on updating stores and IT systems and on a new website.

The company said it was the biggest investment it has ever made in a single year, with bosses looking at another tilt at joining the stock market in the next few years.

Online sales leapt 11 per cent to account for 16.2 per cent of the total, up from 14.9 per cent last year. Visits to the website were also up by 16.5 per cent, with 19 million hits, while 64 per cent of visits are now made through tablets and smartphones.

The chief executive, Anthony Thompson, said: “After a difficult second quarter where the sector as a whole was impacted by the unexpectedly warm weather, we traded well through the Christmas period and over the year have continued to maintain our focus on being a full-price retailer.

“The year ahead is particularly exciting as we take the brand to the US. Our dedicated US website is already live and we look forward to the phased roll-out of physical stores, initially on the east coast.”