Theo Paphitis Retail Group; Christmas & Financial Year End 2017 Trading Statement
Highlights Christmas 2017
Positive like-for-like sales delivered by the Theo Paphitis Retail Group for the Christmas 2017 trading period, being 6 weeks to 24 December:
“As anticipated and reported, the Christmas trading period as has been the case for most of this year, was ‘hard work’ for many retailers. In all my years I have never seen it so hard and unforgiving where the shopper will punish you if you take your eye off the ball. I am therefore very pleased that we were able to deliver growth as a Group.
IThe dynamics were different for us again this year; as expected we saw further strong growth online across all our key brands, however, it was our heritage brands, Ryman and Robert Dyas, that managed to put in the strongest performances through stores. We found that footfall in our stores operating in the key regional shopping centres was weaker than expected, impacting Boux more than the other brands whilst also at the same time experiencing some supply chain difficulties which have now been rectified and stock levels are returning to normal. The lack of footfall did lead to a very competitive market and I am pleased that our margins were only fractionally below last year. Inventory was purchased and managed tightly given our outlook on the market at the start of the year.
It has now become clear that governmental thinking around changes to business legislation, policy and taxation of revenues especially in the UK, is lagging well behind the development of the retail sector globally, which is creating more uncertainty and risk for retailers and thus the economy. With very little interest shown by Government in this key economic pillar, it really does feel like retail as we know it is creeping closer and closer towards the precipice. We continue to watch this space carefully but are not confident of improvements and see it as the biggest risk to our High Street and physical shops.
Online is now the key to most retailers’ success or otherwise, thus I am pleased that our continued investment in this channel was rewarded with further growth: not only in Boux Avenue, as has been the case in recent years, but this year also in Ryman and Robert Dyas. We also experienced strong performances through our wholesaling activities, which is the latest channel in Boux’s development. In addition the period saw our latest franchise store for Boux Avenue open in Prague.
It was clear to us that Black Friday was once again eagerly awaited by our customers and is now an established purchasing window in their psyche, resulting in many records being achieved that week as customers who had postponed purchases in anticipation of discounts opened their purses and wallets. I was particularly pleased that we were able to deliver this massive spike in sales, whilst meeting the expectations of our customers. This was especially the case for Boux which saw Black Friday come shortly after commissioning a newly built 70,000 sq.ft. warehouse and fulfilment facility in Crewe.
It is expected that the headwinds for retailers will continue given the economic and political environment we operate in. Despite this, there are and have always been opportunities for retailers that remain relevant and we intend to continue to work hard to achieve continued success. We are cautious, but our investment in the Group is increasing, particularly to support the areas where we see future growth.”