Dune results are weaker but e-sales rise strongly
Fashion focused footwear retailer Dune Group saw its market share shrinking in its latest financial year, even though its like-for-like sales continued to grow for the most part. The company suffered as its concession partnership with House of Fraser caused problems on the back of the department store chain’s administration filing and purchase by Sports Direct.
The 12 months to the end of January saw Dune’s total turnover falling to £143.89 million from £149.92 million a year earlier. Gross profit was £86 million, down from £89 million in the prior year as the company's operating profit fell to £3.4 million from £4.3 million. Net profit was down to £2.3 million from £2.44 million.
It's not actually the worst set of results given the “structural changes at key concession partner, House of Fraser,” which resulted in the closure of the HoF website for several weeks and a £1.2 million debt write-off following its August 2018 administration. But Dune clearly has work to do to get back into growth mode.
It’s doing that in the physical sphere because, despite closing seven shops during the period, it also opened six outlet shops, as well as five concessions in department stores. And it's continuing to invest in both its digital and physical operations, opening more outlet stores both in the UK and Europe “to expand our reach in this exciting growth area.
The company is facing more change in its segment than it has seen in its entire existence and said that the trading climate during the period was “challenging with the uncertainties created by Brexit negatively impacting retail demand. There was also a rapidly changing retail landscape as the sector responds to changes in consumer behaviour, not least the ongoing trend towards digital commerce, rising costs and a weak pound.”
Yet on some fronts, it’s coping admirably. In its 2018/19 year, like-for-like sales growth for all of its distribution channels rose (except for House of Fraser), with its own websites growing 13%.
But analysts weren’t that impressed. Kate Ormrod, Lead Retail Analyst at GlobalData, said of this: ‘‘Despite a design-led proposition justifying its premium-yet-accessible, price points, Dune’s FY2018/19 performance disappoints, with the retailer falling foul of squeezed consumer budgets and discounting on the high street, resulting in a 0.1ppt loss of UK footwear market share in 2018 to 1.7%."
She thinks that with Dune also selling via Debenhams’ stores, and the department stores operator “having its own set of problems rivalling those of House of Fraser, the footwear specialist remains on shaky ground in FY2019/20, especially as the lack of Brexit clarity continues to impact consumer spending."
But she lauded its digital drive, adding that revenue rises online are "testament to its ongoing investment to enhance its digital proposition, refining the user experience to exploit consumer appetite for online shopping”. And its “delivery saver scheme sets its offer apart from the likes of Kurt Geiger.” However, she thinks its core fulfilment offer is “in need of investment, particularly its delivery timeframes, as it lags behind its third-party partners such as Next.”
And she feels that with “the footwear specialist channel forecast to be the worst performing in the sector over the next five years, coming under pressure from clothing specialists such as Zara and Asos, Dune must boost appeal via differentiated ranges and emphasise its quality and service credentials to showcase value for money and drive repeat visits and purchases. The relaunch of its trend-led Head Over Heels brand in March 2019 will help it tap into the lucrative, but competitive, 16-24 year-old segment – a new opportunity given that its core shoppers are 25-54s.”
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