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Global Brands Group storms ahead with restructuring, stumbles on coronavirus

Jul 1, 2020
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In a fiscal year when the Hong Kong-based brand management company embarked on an ambitious restructuring program and had to face up to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Global Brands Group Holding Limited (GBG) saw its revenue fall 28.5%.

GBG's owned brand portfolio includes Spyder, Frye and Aquatalia - Instagram: @thefryecompany

For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, the company, which owns brands including Frye, Spyder and Aquatalia, reported revenues of $1.08 billion, compared to $1.51 billion in the previous year.
Revenue’s in GBG’s North America segment fell 38.5%, from $1.04 billion to $644 million, while the company’s Europe segment posted a 5.3% drop, from $374 million to $354 million. Revenues in the group’s brand management business totaled $84 million, down 8.9% compared to $92 million.

The company’s operations were first impacted by Covid-19 in January, when the outbreak began to cause supply chain disruptions in China. When the virus spread to Europe and the U.S. in March, the almost complete shutdown of brands and retailers led the group to lose around $100 million in revenues at the end of the fiscal year.
However, the decrease in GBG’s revenue reflected not only the negative financial impact of the coronavirus crisis, but also the effect of the company’s rationalization of unprofitable brands.
These actions were part of GBG’s wider restructuring efforts, which have three main goals: the improvement of total margin rate, the reduction of operational expenses and the increase of EBITDA.
The company was keen to point out that it has seen “positive outcomes in each of these three areas,” with GBG CEO Rick Darling emphasizing that, prior to the pandemic, the group’s progress on these fronts exceeded its own expectations.
Indeed, the company’s total margin rate for the full fiscal year 2020 was 36.6%, up 640 basis points from 33.3% in the previous year, while annual operating expenses fell from $701 million to $492 million. EBITDA was $151 million, compared to a negative $19 million in the previous year.
Nonetheless, GBG’s annual net loss ultimately totaled $598 million, widening from a loss of $400 million in fiscal 2019.
“While our fiscal year 2020 was successful in accomplishing our goal of returning to profitability, the
issues related to the onset of the Covid-19 virus continue to challenge the group,” explained Darling in the company’s financial report. “The group has taken all necessary steps to react to this
unprecedented situation, including further reducing operating costs, reducing purchases, and
preserving cash to allow us to manage through this period.”
As well as its owned brands, GBG holds a wide range of licenses, including Calvin Klein, Karen Millen and All Saints in the fashion sector.

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