Oct 5, 2021
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Boden sales dropped in pandemic but profits rose

Oct 5, 2021

Boden was one of the many fashion businesses that saw sales falling last year with the firm’s results for the 53 weeks to January 2 2021, filed at Companies House, showing a double-digit drop.


In the filing, Boden, of which former Urban Outfitters, Bloomingdale’s and David Yurman executive Glen T Senk, is executive chairman, called the results “satisfactory”.

And while turnover was down to £256 million from £295.2 million a year earlier, Boden seems to have managed its business well, despite the drop. That was clear from the fact that operating profit rose to £14.7 million from £14.2 million and it made £14.3 million in pre-tax profit, which was comfortably higher than the £13.6 million in the previous 12 months. It was helped by a careful focus on cost savings and driving margins higher. Net profit was £12 million, up from £10.5 million.

The sales fall was partly caused by a disproportionately large drop in its womenswear sales, one report said. That’s perhaps no surprise as locked-down/work-from-home consumers switched to leisurewear or put off buying new clothes altogether.

The company usually sells plenty of dresses and the kind of clothes people choose for going on holiday, but with holidays cancelled, many such items stayed on its virtual shelves.

Yet the 30-year-old business had an advantage over some of its fashion peers as its origins as a catalogue retailer and the fact that it embraced online more than 20 years ago meant it didn’t have a huge store estate standing idle. And it didn’t have to ramp up its e-commerce operations as e-tail was already its focus.

That said, it continued to invest heavily in its website during the pandemic period, both in the UK and abroad. Of that £256 million global turnover, the US accounted for £44 million.

This helped it to benefit from two key trends that have been called out by other retailers in the past year-and-a-half — a lower rate of returns (usually due to the fact that leisurewear offers fewer fit challenges than more formal clothing), and a spike in kidswear sales, which were up as much as 12%, The Times reported.

Retailers at all ends of the market — from Next to Farfetch — have commented on the strength of the kidswear market during the pandemic. For Boden, this clearly helped to make up for the weakness in traditional womenswear.

As those higher margins referred to earlier also testify, the company made the most of its opportunity to sell more goods at full price too. 

It also said it made progress on its sustainability aims and wants all of its fabric to be sustainability sourced by 2025.

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