Monsoon, Accessorize recovery moves into high gear, more stores planned
Monsoon and Accessorize have bounced back from a bruising few years (even pre-dating the pandemic) and has reported strong growth “as their successful turnaround continues”.
Group sales rose 43% to £258 million in the year to 31 August, owner Adena Brands Ltd said on Monday. It added that EBITDA (including the Middle East joint venture) was £24.4 million, an increase of 132%.
Importantly too, it also has a strong balance sheet with no debt and £22 million of cash.
What’s particularly interesting is that after the Monsoon physical stores chain shrank so much that it was a digital-first label by the time stores reopened after the pandemic, it has since been opening more new stores and ramping up its physical presence.
That said, Accessorize remains the bigger chain and the current growth engine. The company said that the group UK retail like-for-like sales rise of 105% in the period was led by Accessorize and its travel business.
Overall, Adena has opened 19 new UK stores over the past year with 22 planned for the year ahead, although digital isn’t exactly taking a back seat with the business seeing strong digital growth, and online now accounting for 45% of UK sales. Its web growth in the latest year was led by Monsoon with demand growth there of 22%.
Internationally, the business grew by 24% year-on-year, and its non-UK ops represented 19% of group sales.
Adena said that as well as higher sales, it saw a strong gross margin performance, with growth of 5.3% points. And the “lower and more flexible cost base” helped drive that more than doubling in the EBITDA figure.
The company also said that the new financial year has started well, despite the more challenging economic environment, with year-on-year growth in both group sales and EBITDA in the first quarter.
The firm’s turnaround strategy, which is now in its third year, focuses on five main elements — product and brand renewal, digital transformation, retail portfolio renewal, international expansion, and continued central cost control. And the company said that “each has contributed ahead of expectations”.
Despite the tough backdrop that analysts say will go on for a while, the business said growth over the next year is “expected to continue with the same focus on digital, new retail locations and international expansion”.
Those 22 new stores that have been promised will focus on Europe and the Middle East, including the opening of multiple new Accessorize stores in key European airport locations in Italy, Germany and Switzerland.
EAST GROWING TOO
While the company didn’t share any figures about the acquired East brand, CEO Nick Stowe did say its smallest brand is “a gem, doubling in size with great opportunities ahead”.
He also said: “We’ve made continued strong progress on our turnaround plan, moving from the earlier restructuring phase to a focus on growth. We’ve continued Monsoon’s digital transformation with a new website design, better digital marketing, and the development of ‘Monsoon Bazaar’, our marketplace for like-minded, sustainable third-party brands. We’ve also opened more of our boutique stores and have more planned in the year ahead.
“Accessorize has performed tremendously, its retail business returning to form with great growth from its travel locations in major airports, something we are building on.
“We’re entering a clearly more challenging consumer environment and we’re taking action to control our costs and capital spend. But the business now has a great foundation and we remain positive about the year ahead.”
And founder and chairman Peter Simon added: “We took a leap of faith in 2020 to rescue Monsoon and Accessorize at the height of the pandemic. We worked through the challenges of the pandemic, then the challenges of the energy shock, and now we’re facing into the challenges of a recession. But the business is well-prepared after all the work we’ve done.
“Our business turns 50 next year, a testament to the enduring strength of our brands but also to how we have been able to evolve and change in a way that resonates with our customers today. We are going to celebrate with some wonderful new collaborations that draw on our heritage but also look ahead.”
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