As Frasers reports an increase in sales and profit across its portfolio, driven by the group’s elevation strategy, Retail Week speaks to chief financial officer Chris Wootton about what’s next for the retail powerhouse

Chris Wootton, Frasers Group CFO

Frasers Group, which owns retailers such as Sports Direct, Flannels and Game UK, reported an 8% rise in profit before tax to £310.2m in the 26 weeks to October 29. 

Sports Direct continues to drive growth for the business, providing Frasers “with confidence in the group’s future expansion strategy”. The retailer said it expects growth in its premium luxury segment to be subdued in the short and medium term due to a softening in demand in the global luxury market.

Retail Week speaks to Frasers Group chief financial officer Chris Wootton about the future of the luxury segment, acquisitions, how he expects Christmas trading to play out and expanding the group into markets around the world. 

How do you expect softness in the luxury segment will impact Frasers? 

“The luxury market itself is definitely soft. If you look at any of the big brands, their share prices and performances are down. So it’s a market thing. 

“Flannels has proven resilient in the circumstances. With Flannels, we’ve built a unique proposition. We’ve got the best brands on the high streets and massive barriers to entry. As our chief executive, Michael Murray, calls out, there are opportunities in that market as well. So we have great foundations, pushing on with Flannels, once the market recovers. But the fact is that Sports Direct is by far the biggest part of the group and, frankly, the most important part of the group.”

With the SportsCheck acquisition on hold, what is the group’s strategy for expansion in Europe, the Middle East and Africa? 

“We are very much in contact with SportsCheck and the administrators and we are still very keen to acquire that business albeit in a different form. We hope we will be able to pick that up anyway. Obviously, there are no guarantees, but it’s still one we’re working very heavily on.

“There are still lots of irons or potential irons in the fire. We’re still looking at many cities. We are still the sporting goods partner of choice to help them consolidate the market in Europe. We are still very much looking at opportunities that are at various stages of development.”

Frasers doubled down on its acquisition strategy across various categories. How do you expect stakes in businesses like AO, Currys and Asos to play out? 

“I can’t speak about confidential commercial discussions, however, much like the Hugo Boss investment, which has proved to be a stunning success, it’s very much about creating strategic partnerships and synergies – the one plus one equals three. So that’s the goal. That Hugo Boss relationship took a few years to build up, don’t forget. So, we’re still very early regarding our discussions with the other strategic investment partners. But if it goes as well as Hugo Boss we’ll be very, very happy.”

What are your predictions for Christmas trading? 

“We’ve called out in the outlook statement that we’ve reiterated our guidance and confidence in achieving the £500m to £550m in adjusted profit before tax based on first-half results, and also the early weeks of half two. Given we are well through the holiday trading period, that will give you an indication of how well it’s going.”