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London - Apparel and footwear prices in the UK increased last month according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Clothing prices grew 0.9 percent in July compared to June, as fashion retailers continue to struggle with costs following the fall out of the Brexit vote.

Although total UK retail sales to July 29 increased 0.7 percent value wise compared to June, apparel and footwear sales volumes decreased 0.5 percent in July compared to the previous month. In general, retail sales volumes across the UK market increased 0.3 percent during the same period.

Online fashion retailers continue to do well, as online clothing and footwear sales increased 11.9 percent year on year last month, accounting for 14.1 percent of total online retail. “It’s largely as we expected for July’s retail data,” commented Euan Murray, relationship director at Barclays on ONS retail sales figures. “Low growth, but the industry will be pleased that despite ongoing concerns regarding a slowdown in consumer spending the overall result shows that we are still in positive territory.”

“Looking more broadly at the retail landscape, it’s a really mixed picture, with cost challenges leading to higher prices for fashion, resulting in a dip in the quantity sold for that part of the sector. Footfall fell a little in July, with online sales again delivering well and making up some of the shortfall. I think we can expect a few more ups and downs in the coming months, as retailers battle the continuing pressures stemming from wider economic developments.”

Björn Borg net sales increase 10.4 percent

For the period between April 1 and June 30, 2017, Björn Borg Group’s net sales increased by 10.4 percent to 134.8 million Swedish krona (16.5 million dollars) and by 7.2 percent excluding currency effects. The company said gross profit margin was 52.1 percent compared to 53.5 percent, while earnings per share before and after dilution amounted to–0.11 Swedish krona (0.01 dollar) against–0.09 Swedish krona (0.01 dollar) for the same period last year.

“In summing up the second quarter there are several victories to celebrate with a big payoff from our focus on social media, where we are increasing awareness of our sportswear brand in Sweden and the Netherlands. I can lastly add that our efforts in 2016 to improve deliveries and raise efficiencies have proven very successful. We are increasing delivery reliability at the same time that we reduced costs in the second quarter of 2017,” said the company’s CEO Henrik Bunge in a media release.

Björn Borg reports operating loss of 0.3 mn Swedish krona

The company’s operating loss in the quarter amounted to 0.3 million Swedish krona (0.04 million dollars), against a year-earlier profit of 0.3 million Swedish krona. The loss after tax was 3.3 million Swedish krona (0.41 million dollars), against a year-earlier loss of SEK 2.2 million Swedish krona (0.27 million dollars).

For the reporting period between January 1 to June 30, 2017, the Björn Borg Group’s net sales increased by 14.4 percent to 320.5 million Swedish krona (39.4 million dollars). Excluding currency effects the company’s sales increased by 12.4 percent. The company said, the gross profit margin was 50.3 percent against 51.5 for the same period last year.

Operating profit amounted to 6.5 million Swedish krona (0.80 million dollars) compared to 14.2 million Swedish krona (1.7 million dollars). Profit after tax amounted to 1.7 million Swedish krona (0.2 million dollars against 4.3 million Swedish krona (0.5 million dollars), in the first six months of 2016. Earnings per share before and after dilution amounted to 0.07 Swedish krona (0.01 dollar) compared to 0.20 Swedish krona (0.02 dollar) in the same period last year.

Picture:Facebook/Björn Borg

Buckle posts earnings of 0.24 dollar per share

Second quarter net income at Buckle was 11.5 million dollars, or 0.24 dollars per share compared with 15.5 million dollars or 0.32 dollar per share for the second quarter of fiscal 2016. Net sales for the quarter decreased 7.8 percent to 195.7 million dollars from 212.2 million dollars for the prior year 13-weeks, while comparable store net sales decreased 7.7 percent. The company’s online sales decreased 4.5 percent to 19.5 million dollars against 20.4 million dollars for the same period last year.

Net sales for the 26-week fiscal period ended July 29, 2017 decreased 10.5 percent to 407.9 million dollars against 455.7 million dollars for the prior year’s 26-week period, while comparable store net sales decreased 10.3 percent. Online sales for the period decreased 6 percent to 41.3 million dollars compared to 43.9 million dollars for the 26-week period ended July 30, 2016.

Net income for the 26-week period was 27.8 million dollars or 0.58 dollar per share or 0.57 dollar per share on a diluted basis compared with 38.6 million dollars or 0.80 dollars per share for the same period last year.

Picture:Facebook/Buckle

New York & Company: Q2 net sales drop but earnings rise

New York & Company’s net sales were 224.1 million, decreasing 3.7 percent compared to 232.8 million dollars in the prior year, reflecting growth in ecommerce, offset by the impact of a lower store count of 460 this year versus 486 last year and 1.1 percent decrease in comparable store sales. GAAP net income was 4.8 million dollars or earnings of 0.08 dollar per diluted share compared to the prior year’s 0.9 million dollars or earnings of 0.01 dollar per diluted share.

“We are pleased to report better-than-expected second quarter results reflecting a significant increase in both operating income and diluted earnings per share as compared to the fiscal 2016 second quarter. The quarter marked our highest gross margin and operating income since second quarter 2005 and 2008, respectively. We also made progress on our profit improvement objectives,” said Gregory Scott, New York & Company’s CEO in a press statement.

Important financial highlights of Q2

The company said, gross profit as a percentage of net sales increased 180 basis points to 30.6 percent versus 28.8 percent for the fiscal year 2016 second quarter, reflecting the highest gross margin rate achieved in the second quarter since 2005. The increase during the quarter reflects a 30 basis point increase in merchandise margin and a 150 basis point improvement in the leverage of buying and occupancy expenses.

GAAP operating income improved to 5.2 million dollars compared to 1.3 million dollars, in the prior year’s second quarter. Excluding a 1.7 million dollars net non-operating benefit, non-GAAP adjusted operating income was 3.5 million dollars. Excluding the net benefit of 1.7 million dollars of non-operating adjustments, the current year’s second quarter non-GAAP adjusted net income was 3.1 million dollars, or earnings of 0.05 dollars per diluted share.

The company opened one New York & Company store and two new Outlet stores, refreshed three New York & Company stores, and closed six, ending the first quarter with 460 stores, including 125 Outlet stores.

New York & Company expects flat sales growth in Q3

Regarding the third quarter of fiscal year 2017, the company expects net sales and comparable store sales to be approximately flat. Gross margin is expected to be up approximately 150 basis points to 200 basis points from the prior year’s third quarter rate reflecting continued benefits from Project Excellence through increased royalties, reductions in product costs, agent expenses and occupancy costs, partially offset by increased shipping costs associated with the significant growth in the omni-channel business.

For the third quarter of fiscal year 2017, operating results are expected to be approximately breakeven to a loss of 1 million dollars, as compared to an operating loss of 2.1 million dollars in the prior year’s third quarter.

Picture:Facebook/New York & Company

Ross Stores' Q2 earnings surge 15 percent

Ross Stores reported earnings per share for the second quarter ended July 29, 2017 of 0.82 dollar, up 15 percent from 0.71 dollar last year. The company’s net earnings grew to 317 million dollars, compared to 282 million dollars in the prior year. Sales rose 8 percent to 3.432 billion dollars, with comparable store sales up 4 percent on top of 4 percent growth last year.

Commenting on the positive trading, Barbara Rentler, the company’s Chief Executive said in a media statement: “We are pleased with the better-than-expected growth we delivered in both sales and earnings in the second quarter, especially given our strong multi-year comparisons and today’s volatile retail climate.

For the first six months of fiscal 2017, earnings per share were 1.64 dollars, up 14 percent on top of a 9 percent gain last year and net earnings were 638 million dollars, up from 573 million dollars in the prior year. Sales rose 7 percent to 6.738 billion dollars, with comparable store sales up 4 percent versus a 3 percent gain in the same period last year.

For the third quarter, we are forecasting a same store sales gain of 1 percent to 2 percent, earnings per share to be 0.64 to 0.67 dollar, up from 0.62 dollars in last year’s third quarter. For the fourth quarter, we are also forecasting same store sales to grow 1 percent to 2 percent, with earnings per share expected to be 0.88 to 0.92 dollar, up from 0.77 dollar in the 2016 fourth quarter. Fiscal 2017 earnings per share for the 53 weeks are now planned to increase 12 percent to 14 percent to 3.16 dollars to 3.23 dollars, on top of a 13 percent gain last year,” added Rentler.

Picture:Ross Stores website

HBC appoints Edward Record chief financial officer

Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has announced that Edward Record has been named Chief Financial Officer, effective August 28, 2017. The company said, Record will report to Jerry Storch, CEO, HBC and serve as a member of the company's operating committee. He succeeds Paul Beesley, who, as previously announced by the company, is leaving HBC.

"I'm thrilled to be joining HBC, one of the most diverse retail operators with a global portfolio of leading banners, valuable real estate and a history of unique transactions that unlock shareholder value," said Edward Record in a media release.

The company added that with more than 25 years of experience, Record has overseen financial and operational performance for several large, national retailers. He joins HBC after over three years as chief financial officer for J. C. Penney Company (JCP). Prior to JCP, Record most recently served as executive vice president, chief operating officer of Stage Stores, and previously as its chief financial officer as in charge of overseeing all of the store locations and operations, IT, real estate, e-commerce, logistics, construction, legal and risk management aspects of the business in addition to leading its off price division.

"Ed's deep retail experience will support our company's mission to get ahead and stay ahead of the rapidly changing retail environment. He will play a key role as we continue to drive performance and make the right strategic decisions to improve our retail businesses, while also evaluating the best use of our real estate assets," added Jerry Storch, CEO, HBC.

He has also held executive leadership positions in finance at Kohl's and Belk. Record began his extensive career in retail at Kaufmann's, a division of The May Department Store Company, holding various roles across the finance department, ultimately working his way up to VP of finance and controller.

Picture:The Bay website

Patrick Pruniaux is the new CEO of Ulysse Nardin

Kering has appointed Patrick Pruniaux as the new CEO of Swiss watchmaking house Ulysse Nardin, effective August 28, 2017. The company said, he will report to Albert Bensoussan, CEO of Kering Luxury – watches and jewellery division. Pruniaux replaces Patrik P. Hoffmann who the company said, has quit his role for personal reasons.

Commenting on Pruniaux’s appointment as the new CEO of Ulysse Nardin, Bensoussan, said in a statement: “I am delighted to see a talented individual such as Patrick Pruniaux join Ulysse Nardin, which once again illustrates the attractiveness of the Kering Group. His in-depth knowledge of the watchmaking sector, from product innovation to customer relations, and distribution, will be an important asset in the ongoing drive to develop this watchmaking house.”

In a statement, Kering said, Pruniaux brings many years of experience in the watchmaking industry, both at TAG Heuer, where he held various positions over a nine-year period, and at Apple, where he was involved in the launch of the Apple watch. As CEO of Ulysse Nardin, his mission will be to accelerate the international expansion of the Swiss luxury watchmaking brand, thanks to his innovative thinking and outstanding expertise, it added.

Pruniaux began his career in the Diageo group in 1997 in the United Kingdom and the United States, before moving to the LVMH group’s Wines & Spirits division in Miami. He was appointed international export director at TAG Heuer in 2005, and took on responsibility for EMEIA sales in 2009. He became TAG Heuer’s vice president of global sales & retail in 2010, and a member of the brand’s executive committee.

He joined Apple’s special projects team in 2014, located in Cupertino, to help with the launch of the Apple watch. From 2015, he was Apple’s country manager for the UK and Ireland and a member of Apple’s EMEA executive committee.

Picture:Kering communications department

JCPenney elects Wonya Lucas to its board of directors

J. C. Penney Company has announced the election of Wonya Lucas, President and CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, to its board of directors. The company said, highly regarded for her mass communications and broadcasting leadership, Lucas has vast knowledge in how media strategy, digital content, marketing and distribution drive consumer behaviour.

"Wonya has an impressive background that spans brand management and corporate and media strategy, and has been responsible for creating some of television's most highly acclaimed viewer programming," said Marvin R. Ellison, Chairman and CEO of JCPenney in a press release, adding, "Her distinguished background brings tremendous value to our board as JCPenney continues to build mindshare in a media landscape saturated with news and information."

Wonya Lucas joins JCPenney board

Before her leadership position with Public Broadcasting Atlanta, which includes NPR station WABE, and Atlanta's PBS station, PBA, Lucas was president and chief executive officer for TV One, where she was responsible for all strategic decisions and daily operations.

"What drew me to the JCPenney board is the company's sense of community and the trust it has earned from millions of families who count on JCPenney for quality and value. I feel honoured to be supporting the company at a time when building brand relevance and competitive differentiation are more important than ever," added Lucas.

Prior to joining TV One, Lucas held several positions at Discovery Communications, including executive vice president and chief operating officer for Discovery Channel and Science Channel and global chief marketing officer with responsibility for marketing in 210 countries and over 130 networks. While at Discovery, Lucas helped launch Investigation Discovery (ID), HUB and OWN networks.

Prior to joining Discovery Communications in 2008, Lucas served as general and manager and executive vice president of The Weather Channel Networks, where she was responsible for daily operations, programming development, corporate strategy and development, strategic marketing for The Weather Channel and weather.com.

Before joining The Weather Channel in 2002 as executive vice president of marketing, Lucas held several positions at Turner Broadcasting, including senior vice president of strategic marketing for cnn.com and CNN Networks Worldwide, vice president of business operations and network development for Turner Entertainment and vice president of entertainment marketing for TNT. Her other experience includes brand management roles for The Coca-Cola Company and The Clorox Company.

Picture:Facebook/JCP

Cato reports Q2 net loss of 0.03 dollar per share

The Cato Corporation reported a net loss of 0.9 million dollars or a loss of 0.03 dollar per diluted share for the second quarter ended July 29, 2017, compared to net income of 15.9 million dollars or 0.57 dollar per diluted share for the second quarter, last year. Sales were 205 million dollars or a decrease of 13 percent from sales of 236.7 million dollars in the same quarter last year. The company's same-store sales for the quarter decreased 14 percent to last year.

"Negative sales trends continue to put severe pressure on merchandise margins and profitability as we continue to work through our merchandise missteps," stated John Cato, Chairman, President, and CEO in a statement, adding, "It is taking longer to work through these issues than expected and we expect full year earnings to be significantly below last year."

Gross margin decreased 590 basis points to 31.1 percent as a percent of sales primarily due to lower merchandise margins. During the second quarter, the company opened two stores and relocated one store and now expects to open six new stores during 2017, down from our last estimate of 13 stores. As of July 29, 2017, the Cato Corporation operated 1,374 stores in 33 states, compared to 1,373 stores in 33 states as of July 30, 2016.

Picture:Cato Fashion website

Bon-Ton posts Q2 comparable sales decline of 6.1 percent

Comparable store sales in the second quarter decreased 6.1 percent at Bon-Ton stores, while total sales in the period decreased 7 percent to 504.4 million dollars, compared with 542.4 million dollars in the second quarter of fiscal 2016. The company said, it continued its double-digit sales growth in omnichannel, which reflects sales via the company's website, mobile site, and its ‘Let Us Find It’ customer service program, as the company leveraged its West Jefferson facility and store-fulfilment network.

Commenting on the second quarter trading, William Tracy, incoming President and CEO, said in a media statement, "We made progress in several important areas of the business during the second quarter. We saw strength in key merchandise categories and brands and were pleased with the continued double-digit growth in our omnichannel business."

Q2 gross profit decreases by 18.9 mn dollars

Other income in the second quarter was 21 million dollars, an increase of 4.8 million dollars over the comparable prior year period. The gross margin rate decreased approximately 100 basis points to 35.5 percent of net sales, primarily due to an increase in the markdown rate. Gross profit decreased 18.9 million dollars to 179.2 million dollars, as a result of decreased sales volume.

Adjusted EBITDA totalled 9.1 million dollars compared to 2.5 million dollars in the same quarter last year.

Bon-Ton expects to report per share loss of 2.08-2.59 in FY17

For fiscal 2017, the company continues to expect loss per share to be in a range of 2.08 dollars to 2.59 dollars, inclusive of a 0.05 dollar per share expense from the 53rdweek, and adjusted EBITDA to be in a range of 115 million dollars to 125 million dollars.

The company expects a comparable sales decrease to range from 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent, which excludes sales from the 53rd week; and gross margin rate to decrease in the range of 40 to 60 basis points below the fiscal 2016 rate of 35.5 percent.

Picture:Facebook/Bon Ton