SuperGroup boss Julian Dunkerton expects “a good Christmas” because consumers are always prepared to “dig deep” during the festive period.
Speaking as the fashion retailer announced a 1.7% increase in like-for-like sales for the first quarter; Dunkerton said he believed Christmas cheer would drive positive trading. “It always happens because Christmas makes people happy,” he said.
Dunkerton’s confidence comes despite widespread expectations that sales growth will remain subdued for the rest of year. According to the most recent Opera Solutions Retail Predictor for Retail Week forecast, retail sales growth will be lower this Christmas than the 10-year December average of 3.6%. This year growth of 1.6% is expected, partly because of lower inflation.
Supergroup, which owns young fashion brand Superdry, remains on track to achieve its financial targets after a resilient performance for the 13 weeks to July 29. UK retail sales surged 19.7%, while total group sales increased 10% to £59.7m.
He said: “The retail division has produced a sound performance during the quarter against challenging comparatives and reflects the impact of improved retail practices.
“Trading conditions remain volatile and unpredictable, but SuperGroup has produced a pleasing performance and while we recognise that it is early in the year we are on course to meet our financial objectives.”
He said the retailer’s broader product mix helped to drive sales with its best sellers - jackets, gilets and sweatshirts – continuing to perform well. He added that the group will continue to focus on that through “specialist” brand extensions, including its collaboration with tailor Timothy Everest, which launches later this month, and by expanding its womenswear range and into new categories.
Dunkerton also said he was “content” with the performance of the flagship Regent Street store, which opened its top floor trading area over the period, but that it’s performance during the Olympic period had been in line reports of quiet trading in the West End.
SuperGroup opened two stores in Sunderland and Windsor in the period and internationally, it opened stores in Spain, Greece, France, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Venezuela and South Africa. It now has 102 international stores.
The group plans to open stores in Lebanon, Egypt, Qater and Bahrain, after signing a five-year deal with franchisee Azadea Group. Dunkerton continues to eye opportunities in China and that it is actively seeing opportunities.
Conditions in its wholesale division are more “challenging” but SuperGroup said it was “encouraged” by the order book for the autumn/winter season, which is 7% up on last year.
In the first quarter, sales at the wholesale division fell 5.6% to £19.6m because to differences in the stock despatch schedule to UK and international partners compared to last year.
Orders from Europe and the rest of the world contine to grow “significantly”.