White Company sales, profits rise, autumn is tough but festive trading "positive"
Lifestyle retailer The White Company Group delivered its latest set of results this week, and its performance is clearly improving, despite the tough times in UK retail at present.
And it said that while “in line with the rest of the retail sector, trading since August has been challenging, our performance over the important Christmas period has been positive”.
The company has also continued to extend its reach since its year end, having opened two new stores (in Southampton and Windsor) as well as two concessions — in the Canterbury branch of Fenwick and Bentall’s in Kingston, both of which are the kind affluent towns that are likely to embrace The White Company concept.
As for its results, in order to align with its parent company, the business has shifted its year end, which means its annual figures actually cover the 70 weeks to August 3 this time.
This means the period on which it reported wasn’t directly comparable to the period before. But the company highlighted a 26% increase in group operating profit to £14.4 million looking at it across a comparable 52-week period.
The company, which sells premium priced homewares, clothing and bath & body products, said it saw “ongoing challenges impacting the retail sector”. But it looks like it managed to battle through them and its published group operating profit for the extended 70-week period was £13.6 million, a 21% increase on the previous year.
Using the comparable 52-week period again, its group turnover was up 7% year-on-year to £217.4 million, “driven by good growth in both our UK store and web channels, as well as an expansion of our international operations.”
The company continued to focus on expanding its physical footprint in the year in question and opened one new store and one new concession during the period, as well as re-siting another store. And it opened its second location in Ireland while also launching a US wholesale deal with upscale Nordstrom.
Not that web ops were neglected and it launched a euro currency website too, which was an important step given that consumers do like to shop in their own currencies.
But despite its international initiatives, it’s clear from the weighting of the firm’s store estate that the UK remains its core market. It had 48 standalone stores in Britain at its financial year end, as well as nine concessions. By comparison, it had only two US stores, and two Irish locations in addition to its trio of webstores and wholesale partners.
CEO Mary Homer was upbeat about the year’s performance and what has happened since. “I am pleased to announce the continued growth in both revenue and profit, and I am very proud of what the team have achieved,” she said. “In the context of the turbulent retail environment, growth has come from all channels, with positive [like-for-like sales] in retail being particularly encouraging.
“We have also made further strides internationally in line with our strategy. The investments we made in infrastructure, IT and moving to new headquarters have been instrumental in our growth. The performance of this current year is stable, which is encouraging in the current retail climate.”
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