Profits tumble after SuperGroup is hit by a string of mistakes

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The Independent Online

The fashion retailer SuperGroup has promised a more "structured and disciplined approach" to how it is run after a series of mistakes saw annual profits tumble by 15 per cent.

The company behind the Superdry and Cult clothing brands is also to cut back on its store-opening programme, at a time when internet sales are growing strongly.

Peter Bamford, the chairman, said it had been a "difficult" year, adding that the group's "communications with the City have proved to be challenging".

The retailer blamed its three profit warnings last year on a botched upgrade of its warehouse systems last autumn, fierce discounting by rivals this year, and accounting errors.

SuperGroup's underlying profits tumbled by 14.7 per cent to £42.8m over the year to 29 April, although new stores drove a 31.9 per cent uplift in revenues to £313.8m.

To improve its performance, the group unveiled Shaun Wills, the former chief operating officer of Habitat, as its new finance director in March. One of his first jobs was to review and strengthen internal forecasting controls.

The fashion group also hired Susanne Given, a director of fashion and beauty at John Lewis Partnership, as its new chief operating officer.

Mr Bamford said the changes would "ensure that the board can be more effective in underpinning the exceptional entrepreneurial skills and passion in the business with a more structured and disciplined approach".

UK underlying sales on stores which have been open at least a year grew by 2 per cent, including strong online revenues.

The retailer, which floated at 500p in March 2010, opened 124,000 sq ft of new space in the UK, including its new flagship store on Regent Street in London, during 2011-12. But this year it is planning to add a rather more modest 70,000 sq ft.

SuperGroup's chief executive, Julian Dunkerton, said: "The reality is that the retail landscape has changed in the last few years."

He said the management changes would free him to focus on improving its ranges, and added: "Womenswear is an area of opportunity [where] we have not been as strong as we could have been."

The retailer aims to open its first five stores in India before Christmas.

Shares in SuperGroup jumped 15 per cent to 385p. This continued the rollercoaster ride since flotation that has seen it rise as high as 1,820p and as low as 264.5p.