Supergroup and Burberry prove Britannia's still got it

Ok, so 'cool Britannia' might be a bit over-ambitious. But British brands are still flying the flag, as two sets of results out today prove.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Despite its unfortunate propensity to actively encourage men to tuck their jeans into their boots, Justin Bieber-style, we’re unashamed fans of SuperGroup, the UK clothing retailer. And although it’s been a bit off-trend in the City lately, it may be back in fashion after its latest results: the owner of the Superdry brand proudly sported by slebs from Kate Moss to Zac Effron (and, no doubt, the Biebmeister himself), said profits surged by 89% in the year to May, with sales up 71% to £238m. Not bad for a company that only came into being seven years ago. With Burberry also reporting another jump in revenues today, it’s good to know that – despite yesterday’s disappointing trade figures – there are plenty of brands still spreading the good word about UK plc.

The City had been getting nervous recently that SuperGroup was starting to lose momentum; to become a bit over-exposed. But actually, today’s results indicate that its aggressive expansion strategy is working really rather well. The Cheltenham-based group, which also owns the 77Breed and SurfCo California brands, says it opened 20 new stores last year. And its ambitions don’t end there: last month, it said it was planning to open 50 international stores over the next year. It’s also supposedly poised to take over Austin Reed’s Regent Street store in a deal worth £12m (the first change in occupancy for that premises in about a century).  

Trading figures like these will have come as a relief to SuperGroup founder Julian Dunkerton – an MT Top 100 Entrepreneurs alumnus – who, having floated his company last year at £5 per share, watched its price rise to nearly £18, but then crash like Superman on kryptonite following (relatively) lacklustre growth. The good news, though, is that today’s results pushed the share price up by a very respectable 132p to £10.06.

But SuperGroup isn’t the only one flying the flag (cape?) for British business abroad. Luxury goods brand Burberry has also released encouraging figures this morning: revenues rose 34% in the three months to June 30, to £367m – well above the City’s £340m forecast. The brand put it down to higher-than-expected ‘in-season’ orders, which it said would push up wholesale revenue excluding China by a ‘high teens percentage’. It’s another sign that while many retailers are still struggling, the luxury market is faring relatively well. That’s a lot to do with success in emerging markets, where the newly-wealthy middle classes value brands like Burberry for their heritage status.

SuperGroup might have a while to wait before it’s considered heritage – but if its expansion strategy continues to go as well as this, it’s only a matter of time before the young men of the Chinese middle classes are tucking their jeans into their boots with the best of them…

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