LONDON — Mulberry Group plc is reaching into new markets as it struggles to keep up with demand in more established ones.
The British accessories and ready-to-wear group said in a statement Thursday that sales at Mulberry's U.K. stores were up 36 percent in the nine weeks to Dec. 1, compared with the corresponding period last year. Mulberry did not provide exact sales figures.
The company added that, despite increasing manufacturing space, changing production methods and investing in new machinery at its factory in Somerset, England, it was unable to keep up with demand for its purple patent Bayswater bags.
The new Mabel bags were also a big driver of sales in the first half, it said, and the spring accessories wholesale order books are up 6 percent on the previous year.
And the brand continues to push forward: "Our program of reinvesting in the business is already benefiting the company, and customer awareness in Asia and the U.S. is growing," said Godfrey Davis, chairman and chief executive officer. "The group continues to make steady progress while the foundations for international growth in the medium term are laid."
In the Middle East, Mulberry has recently joined with the Chaloub Group, a luxury brand distributor for the region. New shops will open in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and in Kuwait over the next six months.
In addition, the brand will open stores in Hong Kong, Singapore airport and Shanghai and in two department store corners in South Korea over the next six months.
Mulberry already has growing businesses in Asia and in the U.S., where it has opened five shops in the last 12 months. The statement said no more stores would open in the U.S. until Mulberry has "successfully built awareness" through advertising, public relations and marketing activities.
In the first half ended Sept. 30, sales grew 4.2 percent to 21.5 million pounds, or $44 million, from 20.7 million pounds, or $42.2 million, driven in part by a 38 percent rise in U.K. retail shop sales. Sales growth also came from the new U.S. units and two department store corners in South Korea, which also opened in the first half.
Mulberry, however, saw profits plummet 44 percent to 815,000 pounds, or $1.7 million, from 1.5 million pounds, or $3.1 million, due mainly to "substantial" advertising, marketing and administrative expenditure linked to the new store openings in the U.S. and Asia, according to Davis.
As reported, Emma Hill has been named Mulberry's creative director, replacing Stuart Vevers. Hill will make her debut with the spring 2009 collection and will oversee all creative aspects of the company. She has previously worked at Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Chloé and Gap.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast