Superdry encouraged by recent trading, AW21 jackets and womenswear strong
A trading statement from Superdry on Thursday talked of an "encouraging start" to AW21, as well as the commitment to driving more full-price sales helping it to make continued gross margin gains.
Not that the headline figures made for attractive reading. In the update, which covered the first half (H1 was 26 weeks) and the eight weeks to October 23, the company said H1 group revenue was down 2.4% year-on-year (YOY). And it was down a massive 25.3% compared to the same period two years ago (2YOY). In the most recent eight weeks, the fall was 8.8% on a one-year basis and 17.2% 2YOY.
Looking at H1 in more detail, revenue in stores was actually up 21.7% YOY, but it was down 34.5% 2YOY. Online revenue understandably fell on a one-year basis as consumers gravitated back to physical shopping, but the decline of 30% was rather large. However, online revenue rose 7.6% 2YOY. And wholesale revenue was up 1.2% YOY, but it was down 28.3% 2YOY.
Moving to the most recent eight-week period, revenue through stores rose 2.5% YOY but fell 28.6% 2YOY. Online revenue fell 20% YOY but rose 6.6% 2YOY. And Wholesale fell 9.7% on a one-year basis and 16.6% on a two-year comparison.
MOST RECENT WEEKS SHOW IMPROVEMENTS
What’s perhaps most significant about all of those numbers is that the most recent eight weeks does seem to have produced an improving performance. Revenue in stores was still down compared to two years ago but not by as much as for H1 as a whole. And while online revenue was down in total year-on-year, compared to two years ago it was higher in both H1 and the eight weeks.
Founder and CEO Julian Dunkerton said of all this: “Once the new range landed and we began trading against a comparable full-price period, we saw an acceleration into positive two-year Retail like-for-like growth. Our focus on full-price sales continues to deliver improvements in gross margin. We are encouraged by the performance this strategy is starting to deliver, which gives me further confidence in the full-year outlook.”
The company has been operating at something of a disadvantage as footfall has been returning to the key shopping area of central London with its former flagship in Regent Street now closed and its new flagship in the ex-Forever 21 site not yet open.
But Dunkerton added: “I am really excited about the opening of our new flagship store in Oxford Street on November 10 which will be a big statement about the future of the brand, offering the broadest range of sustainable product in our portfolio. It will showcase the full spectrum of new ranges and will become a London base for the wholesale showroom and our influencer programme, which is a key pillar of the brand's digital-first strategy.”
CORE CATEGORIES LOOK STRONG
The company explained its recent performance further saying the improvement in trading in its Retail channels across the eight-week period “has been encouraging, as we have exited sale and fully launched our AW21 collection. The full-price performance seen through the Summer has translated into stronger overall performance going into the peak Autumn months. Our core categories are resonating well, with AW21 jackets particularly strong. Womenswear mix is up 8 ppts vs FY20 and represented eight of our 10 top selling products in October”.
And on e-commerce, it said “growth gathered momentum in October as we finally began to trade against a comparable full-price period. This performance has been supported by our growing investment into social marketing”.
But the pandemic “continues to materially impact physical store trading”. H1 performance was “negatively impacted by temporary closures in Europe, as well as the permanent closure of 15 stores. Footfall remains subdued in all markets and was still down 27%1 in the UK despite the easing of Covid-related restrictions”.
In the light of these challenges, perhaps the two-year comparisons for stores don’t look so bad, while the one-year comparisons look even better.
As mentioned, what’s also important is that full-price strategy. In H1, it resulted in a gross margin improvement across Stores (+5.6 ppts) and E-commerce (+9.2 ppts) YOY.
Wholesale remains challenged, however, due to global supply chain delays and despatches are four-to-six weeks behind plan. “But we continue to work closely with our partners and do not currently foresee a risk to the season, with the majority of this timing reversing in H2”, Superdry said.
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