Fashion specialist Blue Inc expects a sixth year of record growth in 2011, despite punishing trading conditions.
Blue Inc chief executive Steven Cohen was confident of continued improvement as the retailer filed accounts at Companies House showing a fifth year of improvement.
Blue Inc’s EBITDA rose to £2.9m in the year to December 31, 2010 from £2.4m the previous year. Turnover was up to £49.9m from £39.8m.
Since the year-end Blue Inc acquired 46 Officers Club stores following the latter’s administration. Store numbers at the current year-end will total about 170 compared with 98 the last time.
The Officers Club deal underpinned Cohen’s confidence for the current year, during which Blue Inc was one of the retailers affected by rioting in English cities.
He said: “We’re helped by our acquisition of Officers Club. The acquisition will have paid for itself this year. We’re on target for our sixth consecutive year of sales and profit growth.”
He acknowledged that trading conditions remained harsh, particularly for retailers targeting young people, who are being affected by financial tightening such as changes to student grants.
“Like-for-likes have been more challenging,” said Cohen, who did not reveal Blue Inc’s like-for-like performance. “I don’t think anyone has been immune to the challenges in young fashion.” Blue Inc has stayed competitive without resorting to excessive discounting, he said.
He added that a decision is likely in early 2012 on whether to seek new investment or an IPO.
At the start of 2011 the retailer bolstered its board with the appointment of former Schroders and Citigroup banker Alan Jacobs as a non-executive director. Jacobs is well-known for his role in the flotation of DFS and its sale last year by founder Lord Kirkham.
Jacobs’ appointment followed the hiring last September of Mike Rainer as finance director. The appointments prompted speculation about plans for a flotation or to bring more investors on board.
Cohen kept his corporate options open, however. He said: “At the moment I’m just focusing on Christmas,” adding that he would need to assess market conditions in the new year before making a decision.
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