There have been two retail IPOs to date this year, Ocado and SuperGroup. Their fortunes in share price terms have so far gone in opposite directions, with Ocado’s floundering, and SuperGroup’s price doubling.
Retail Week Knowledge Bank has recently updated its SuperGroup profile to incorporate the latest annual results showing group sales rising 83% to almost £140m while operating profit trebled. Wholesale sales just outpaced domestic retail sales growth through the group’s Cult and Superdry stores, but the latter still increased 77% to £86.4m, with an operating margin of 14% and a retail gross margin estimated by Retail Week Knowledge Bank to be more than 60%.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the share price has been so buoyant. However, young high fashion brands always come with a longer-term health warning. SuperGroup’s Cult Clothing has been around for 25 years, but its Superdry brand was created as recently as 2003 and the group really took off only in 2007/08.
The Superdry brand may be ‘in your face’ and spot-on for now but fashion rapidly moves on. Will Superdry be so prominent or even around in three, four, five years time? Also, Superdry is an own brand, management having largely taken the in-house route, which places a double burden in terms of evolving not just SuperGroup’s retail formats, but its brands, The retail competition like Republic can simply switch emphasis to the latest hot brands. Will SuperGroup’s new brands like California Surf Co consistently cut the same mustard?
SuperGroup management’s on-going challenge in seeing shooting star status through to maturity is the mere matter of creating an enduring, growing and more complex corporate entity, while regularly recreating its current idiosyncratic market, product, format and brand dynamism.