Commenting on the results, Stephen Marks, Chairman and Chief Executive said, “As widely reported trading in UK retail has been tough and while we still have the all-important Christmas period to come, I am pleased to report that the overall performance of the Group continued to be positive, particularly in UK wholesale and global licensing with continued tight cost control and we expect the results for the full year to be in line with market expectations.”
For the 17 week period to November 22, UK/Europe retail has been trading against stronger prior year comparatives and un-seasonally warm weather, due to which UK/Europe like-for-like sales were down 5.7 percent. Through a combination of improved underlying margin and a continued focus on full price sales, UK/Europe gross margin improved over 240 bps in the period. With underlying operating expense savings and the reduction of costs due to the closure of non-contributing stores the losses in the retail division were marginally reduced.
In the UK, company closed three non-contributing stores and opened two concessions. In Europe it opened a store in Berlin, took over a franchise store in Amsterdam and opened two new Spanish concessions in El Corte Ingles. A new franchise partner also opened a store in Grenoble.