Mulberry's sales sour

The battered handbag maker's 17% revenue slide doesn't exactly scream glad timings, but could it be in for a Christmas miracle?

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 31 Mar 2015

If you didn’t know, Mulberry’s in a pickle. The luxury handbag maker had a dismal year, crowned by a 17% fall in revenues for the six months to September 30th, to £64.7m. Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise, because Mulberry gave away a sneaky spoiler seven weeks ago in an effort to sweeten today’s headlines (look up to see how that worked out for them).

Mulberry’s woes stem from former boss Bruno Guillon’s pursuit of the mid-market, which left middle England aghast and reaching for her John Lewis silk handkerchief and assorted smelling salts. The handbag maker’s base fell through, and UK retail sales plunged 9%.

There are signs of an improvement, however. Mulberry chairman Godfrey Davis said revenues were up 8% on last year in the last nine weeks (he kept the figures to himself), with online sales up 18%.

Mulberry will surely hope this will continue over the crucial Christmas period, but it knows better than to take it for granted. Last year, the company suffered an unexpected festive slump in sales, which sent revenues down 7% for the eight weeks to January 25th, despite having had a strong autumn.

The firm has been trying to recapture its old mojo since Guillon left in March, pursuing its more traditional markets, while also pursuing growth internationally. Its partnership with model Cara Delevingne and especially its recent appointment of ‘it’ bag designer extraordinaire Johnny Coca as creative director bode well. It remains to be seen, however, whether the firm’s recent turnaround will continue before Coca arrives from rival Céline in July.

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