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Dr Martens’ troubles continue as shoe brand sees big fall in US sales

The company reported a 31% drop in American revenue.

August Graham
Thursday 25 January 2024 08:00 GMT
Shoemaker Dr Martens has struggled in the US in recent years (Tim Ireland/PA)
Shoemaker Dr Martens has struggled in the US in recent years (Tim Ireland/PA) (PA Archive)

Shoemaker Dr Martens said its woes in the US have continued to hamper performance, with sales there down by nearly a third at the end of 2023.

The company’s American business, which last year had to deal with a major warehouse problem, now faces a “weak consumer backdrop”, it said.

Footfall at its shops has not been at the levels it might have hoped, and online sales were also “softer”.

American revenue dropped by 31%, which helped pull down global revenue by 21% to £267.1 million in the last three months of the calendar year.

The period – Dr Martens’ third quarter – saw sales in the Asia-Pacific region fall 8% and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa they dropped 15%.

Chief executive Kenny Wilson said the global fall “was driven by a weak USA performance, as expected.

“Trading in the quarter was volatile and we saw a softer December in line with trends across the industry.

“Whilst the consumer environment remains challenging, we are taking action to continue to grow our iconic brand and invest in our business.”

The business already flagged in November that it was going to miss its guidance for the year, an announcement which sent shares down by around a fifth on the day.

At the time it blamed “headwinds” in the US and unseasonably warm weather as the company was rolling out its autumn-winter range.

It has been a bumpy ride for the famous shoe brand since it listed in London in January 2021. Shares are now worth around four-fifths less than they were then.

Last financial year the company managed to notch up £1 billion in revenue for the first time, but it was bittersweet. Profit plummeted by a quarter as the company faced massive teething problems at a new US warehouse.

The company had moved its main distribution centre on the US west coast from Portland to Los Angeles.

A series of issues came together to create bottlenecks at the site and Dr Martens struggled to ship products to wholesale customers.

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