Superdry sees "clear" improvement, but turnaround is still work-in-progress
Superdry’s Christmas trading update and results for the half-year to October 23 showed “clear signs of brand and financial recovery” on Thursday, although the company isn’t yet where it would like to be, with sales still lagging.
Looking first at the 11 weeks to January 8, the company said group revenue was up 19.6% year-on-year in the period, but down 11.7% against two years ago. That divides down into a one-year 18.4% rise in store revenue and a two-year 18.8% drop. E-commerce was down 17.6% on the year but up 0.3% against two years ago. Total retail was up 21.7% on a one-year basis and down 11.8% against two years ago, while wholesale was 12.9% ahead on the year and down 11.3% against the pre-Covid period.
This was all despite footfall “remaining suppressed against pre-Covid levels, the development of Omicron leading to further European restrictions, and a significant reduction in our markdown offer in our Black Friday and post-Christmas sales”.
In line with its full-price strategy, it hasn’t held an end-of-season sale in its stores and as a result, over the past 11 weeks, its has seen a 4.1ppts gross margin improvement compared to two years ago.
Significantly, the latest figures also show the two-year pre-Covid comparison improving against the performance earlier in the year. That can be seen clearly from the half-year results.
Group revenue in the half year was £277.2 million, which was down 1.9% year-on-year but down a hefty 24.9% against two years ago (remember, the 11-week two-year drop mentioned above was ‘only’ 11.7%). This reflected “the continued impact of Covid-19 and our move to a full-price trading stance, but with a consistently improving run-rate through the period”.
The gross margin rate was 55.2%, up from 51.7% this time last year and still down from 56.3% pre-Covid, although it’s edging closer to that figure.
The company made an adjusted loss before tax of £2.8 million, which was better than the £10.6 million loss of a year ago, but worse than the £2.3 million loss of two years ago. However, its statutory profit before tax this time was £4 million, easily beating the £18.9 million loss in the previous year and the £4.2 million US loss pre-Covid.
CEO Julian Dunkerton said he was “really pleased with our progress against each of our strategic initiatives with clear signs of brand and financial recovery. The health of the brand is best demonstrated by the improving sales run-rate and a +12ppts increase in [the] Retail full-price sales mix, which helped drive group gross margin up 3.5ppts year-on-year.”
The AW21 season was “the first opportunity to present our improved product to consumers”. Its core category of jackets drove its performance, rising 40% year-on-year, and it was “encouraging to see positive trends across a number of categories, particularly in womenswear, where we saw an increase in mix +4 ppts vs AW19. We have also seen our short order product begin to show promising traction with teen consumers”.
The company, which opened its big new Oxford Street flagship in the former Forever 21 store in November, said the store’s early trading performance “has exceeded expectations”.
And it continues to “make progress on our digital marketing strategy and reigniting consumer interest in the brand, with the number of influencers we have engaged increasing sixfold year-on-year to more than 2,000 at the end of December, supported by our increasing investment in social marketing activities and ever-improving product”.
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