WEST FASH­ION BOSS IN ASH­LEY PLEA

Western Daily Press - - Front Page - ALYS KEY news@west­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

THE boss of lux­ury bag-maker Mul­berry has pleaded for clar­ity over the fu­ture of House of Fraser stores af­ter the re­tailer’s col­lapse took a chunk out of its sales and prof­its.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive, Thierry An­dretta, said Som­er­set-based Mul­berry would con­tinue to trade from the chain fol­low­ing its sale to Mike Ash­ley’s Sports Di­rect but needed to know which branches would close.

“We need to un­der­stand which ones they will keep in the port­fo­lio, and which will fit in our strat­egy,” he said. “But we are keen to con­tinue be­cause we also have a re­ally loyal cus­tomer with House of Fraser.”

Mike Ash­ley has es­ti­mated that he will keep 80 per cent of House of Fraser stores open af­ter he bought the com­pany out of ad­min­is­tra­tion in Au­gust, mean­ing around 12 are likely to shut their doors.

But only three clo­sures – in Swin­don, Ed­in­burgh and Hull – have so far been con­firmed.

Mul­berry has 18 con­ces­sions in House of Fraser, but the col­lapse and sub­se­quent trou­bles of the de­part­ment store have im­pacted trad­ing.

The brand’s UK sales dropped by 11 per cent in the six months to the end of Septem­ber.

Up­dat­ing on cur­rent trad­ing, the com­pany said foot­fall con­tin­ued to be weaker in House of Fraser stores.

Mul­berry took a one-off hit to prof­its of £2.1 mil­lion as a re­sult of the House of Fraser col­lapse dur­ing the pe­riod. Its launch in Korea also ate into the bot­tom line, cost­ing £2.5 mil­lion. Over­all re­ported loss be­fore tax was £8.2 mil­lion. But the brand ex­pects a strong Christ­mas trad­ing pe­riod and grow­ing in­ter­na­tional sales in the sec­ond half of the year.

In the UK, Mul­berry has agreed to switch from a whole­sale model to con­ces­sions in John Lewis & Part­ners stores. This will in­crease the range of Mul­berry prod­ucts avail­able to shop­pers and builds on the brand’s ‘di­rect to con­sumer’ strat­egy.

Mr An­dretta said that the brand could con­sider cre­at­ing a prod­uct for the de­part­ment store, which has been in­creas­ing the amount of ex­clu­sive stock in its stores.

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun

Mul­berry cre­ative di­rec­tor Johnny Coca with model Soo Joo

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