Findel makes its debut in leisurewear market

Home shopping group Findel will test discounted sports and leisurewear brands in its main catalogues this year.

Chairman Keith Chapman said a trial specialogue, offering brands such as Elle, Reebok and Adidas, was well received by customers and Findel now plans further mailings and to test the offer in its Studio and Ace catalogues.

The direct retailer predominantly sells greeting cards, gifts, home and garden items and a limited clothing range, but has trebled its product offer from 1,500 SKUs to approximately 5,000.

Chapman said an enhanced clothing offer was a potential avenue for growth, but Findel does not aim to compete with more fashion-led rivals, such as N Brown, which have lost out to a resurgent high street.

In the year to March 31, Findel's group sales rose by 11 per cent to£368.2 million, with profit before tax up from£23.2 million in 2002 to£32.4 million. The figures were flattered, however, by an accounting change.

Chapman attributed the strong home shopping performance to a strategy of reducing the seasonality of sales. For several years Findel has been trying to shake off its reputation as a 'Christmas business' and has been increasing the frequency of mailings.

'The expanded product range and availability of credit have been the principal reasons for our growth, which is particularly pleasing when viewed against current market conditions,' said Chapman. 'Successful high-street retailers continue to price aggressively and overall the home shopping market has had a difficult period.'