White Stuff profits halve after triple cost hit
PROFITS at White Stuff have more than halved after the retailer, known for its quirky brightly coloured clothes, suffered a triple-whammy from rising pension, wage and currency costs.
Although sales climbed 6pc to £153m, pre-tax profits tumbled from £13m to £6m. In its latest accounts, the chain blamed “external headwinds” for a tough year. White Stuff has also suf- fered from the fall in the pound.
The slump has made importing clothes from Asia almost 15pc more expensive than the year before. It said: “Underlying sales growth has been disappointing, exacerbated by a tough and uncertain macroeconomic environment, which has impacted consumer spending and created a much more promotion-led competitive environment.” White Stuff has made a number of head office redundancies, believed to be 30 people, in order to rein in spending in response to the sharp jump in costs. Despite the uncertain backdrop, White Stuff ploughed money into opening 32 new shops and concessions during the year, which eroded profits further. Sales were boosted by strong online growth with web sales lifting by 9.9pc to £42.3m, accounting for almost 30pc of total retail sales. The chain, currently searching for a new boss after Jeremy Seigal announced he would leave by the end of the year, said that it had chosen to focus its international expansion in Germany and would therefore also be closing its two shops in Denmark.
The retailer said that because of “changing shopping habits” it would require more investment to deliver a “meaningful experience” for shoppers.