Green lights for fashion business

Thursday, 13 January 2011
After a poor beginning, FashionUnited Top 100 Index starts to climb up the new year. The international fashion benchmark close Wednesday at 1,237.4 helped by a rise of 19.2 points.

Some positive or at least encouraging news stirred markets Wednesday, after a greyish start of the year in terms of stocks.

French luxury goods group PPR SA (PP.FR) said Wednesday it has formed an e-commerce development unit. "Already a global e-commerce leader with sales exceeding EUR2 billion in 2009 with more than 80 websites worldwide, PPR's E-Commerce Development Unit aims to develop synergies across brands, coordinate e-commerce initiatives and share digital expertise," the company said in a brief statement.The new unit will be headed by Fabien Sfez, 51, General Manager of Fnac France since 2006. Never the less, the French luxe giant lost 0.79% at the trading floor.

In neighbouring UK, High Street retailer Marks & Spencer unveiled increased like-for-like retail sales over the Christmas period despite a challenging economic climate and as other retailers have issued profit warnings due to weather and snow disruption. The UK retailer reported a 2.8 percent like-for-like rise in sales for the last 13 weeks of 2010, and said that its mid- and higher-priced ranges performed well despite the economic and weather backdrop.

Marks & Spencer's improved sales performance comes as other UK retail groups, such as Mothercare and Clinton Cards, have been forced to issue profit warnings after struggling to lift sales of late. Within the FU Top 100 Index these good news tranformed into a 0.7% gain.

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed that overall sales values fell by only 0.3% in December on a like-for-like basis compared to a year ago. Total sales, which includes new stores opening or closing down, increased by 1.5%. To confirm these good news, three British retailers were found yesterday within the top 5 performances of the international fashion index: JD Sports Fashion (+2.36&), NEXT (+0.44) and Ted Baker (+0.57).

The data revealed that although the pre-Christmas snow disrupted sales patterns and led to some lost trade, consumer reluctance to spend amid uncertainty about jobs had a significant impact.

December is usually expected to be the busiest month of the year for retail but instead saw the first fall in spending since April, after a 0.7% rise in November. nternet, mail-order and phone sales grew by nearly a fifth compared to a year ago with Debenhams and House of Fraser seeing a near doubling in catalogue and in-store orders. However, this category represents less than 7% of overall sales in the UK.

Green lights also for the Antipodes, as Australia’s retail sales rose slightly in November last year, with a 0.3% increase following a 0.8% fall in October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Monday.The figures showed the Australian economy was slowing down as consumers were fairly cautious with their spending in the lead up to Christmas, said Australia’s economists. “Looking at the data today, it’s clear the Australian economy is losing momentum,” said economist Savanth Sebastian from Australian financial services firm CommSec.

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