Investment into US debut weighs heavy on fashion company despite higher sales
Investment on its imminent US debut and a “bruising second quarter” in the UK have taken their toll on Fat Face, the fashion retailer.
The company, owned by private equity group Bridgepoint, said on Thursday that while sales had risen 2.7 per cent to £205.4 million (€287.7m), helped by strong online growth, profits dropped. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell from £39.3 million to £36.5 million in the year to May 30th.
Unseasonably warm temperatures in October sent sales of shorts and sunglasses soaring but dented demand for coats, knitwear and scarves.
“There is no point fudging this,” said Anthony Thompson, Fat Face chief executive. “We know we had a horrible second quarter.”
Fat Face scaled back promotions and did not launch its winter sale until Boxing Day for the fifth consecutive year as it sought to sell more goods at full price.
The company has launched a dedicated US website and will open its first store, in Portland, Maine, in November. It is in talks to take a second shop and said it hoped to open up to 10 US outlets over the next two years.
“We see a clear opportunity to offer US customers a brand which typifies an active, outdoor lifestyle,” said Mr Thompson.
But he added: “We will take a cautious and measured approach to make sure we get it right. With this, and our plans in the UK, we head into the next chapter of the business with confidence.”
In the first stages of its US expansion, Fat Face plans to open in holiday destinations, where it does well in the UK, neighbourhoods around Boston and on retail parks. “If it [doesn’t work] we will not have bet the ranch, but I’m confident it will,” said Mr Thompson.
As well as investing in the US, Fat Face has spent £9 million opening new UK stores and improving others, developing its online platforms and on IT.