Is it a bird, is it a plane? Superdry shows retail heroics

Supergroup, the retailer behind the Superdry clothes brand, is living up to its name - leaping soaring costs to post great results...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
The group has seen revenues rise a staggering 65% in the past six months, helping drive profits to new highs. Pre-tax profits were at £14.6m ($23m) for the six months to October, up 86% from a year ago. That’s a positively bionic performance, and certainly not bad for a business born on a market stall in Cheltenham 20-odd years ago.

Supergroup's owners floated a third of the business in March to fund growth. That was a canny move: things have certainly moved faster than a speeding bullet since. The retail sales business shot up 72%, including a 140% rise in online sales, as the group increased its store-count by 31% to 55, and its concessions by 23% to 69.

Superdry is one of those rare brands that has managed to carve out a lasting appeal across the board. For proof of its wide demographic, just look at its latest store openings: one in Harrods, at the Lakeside in Essex, and at One New Change by St Paul’s Cathedral. And its reach extends overseas, with new stores in South Korea, the UAE and Venezuela. International wholesale revenue was up 56% to £35.9m.
Yet amid all the good news there lurked ominous signs of trouble brewing: Supergroup’s share price fell a whopping 16% despite the superhuman display, after the group warned that gross margins could suffer next year thanks to rising cotton prices, which recently hit a 15-year high. If that’s hurting even a bulletproof performer like Supergroup, then it’s really going to tear through its rivals (Next and Primark have also expressed their concern over the imminent peril lately).

Still, that’s not to take anything away from Supergroup’s heroics. And there’s more of that to follow: stores are set to grow to 114 over the next three years, and it’s setting up a raft of global partnerships through franchising and license agreements. Just the story that UK plc needs: one brand that deserves to wear its pants outside its trousers.

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