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Liberty Posts 19.5% Revenue Increase

Liberty's net loss totaled $8.1 million in 2009.

LONDON — Liberty Plc, the London department store known for its archive of printed fabrics, narrowed its losses and grew revenues in 2009. The company said Tuesday it recorded a net loss of 5.2 million pounds, or $8.1 million, for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, versus a net loss of 7.4 million pounds, or $13.7 million, in the previous year.

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Liberty notched up revenues of 59.6 million pounds, or $93 million for the year, up 19.5 percent. Dollar figures have been calculated at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

The company also recorded a positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization figure in 2009, of 108,000 pounds, or $168,000, versus a negative EBITDA figure of 3.9 million pounds, or $7.2 million, in 2008. It marks the first time in a decade Liberty has recorded a positive EBITDA figure for the year.

“Liberty has demonstrated its ability to buck economic and retail trends by returning to profitability during one of the worst downturns in recent retail history,” stated Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye, Liberty’s chief executive officer.

The company noted the Liberty fabric business performed strongly last year — partly thanks to a surge in revenue from its Japanese fabric business, which was lifted by a favorable exchange rate from Japanese yen to British pounds.

The firm also said revenues at the Regent Street flagship rose 18 percent over the year, to 37.3 million pounds, or $58.2 million, a result of its rejuvenation program, which saw the retailer introduce initiatives such as a temporary boutique for Hermès scarves, and collaborations with artists Grayson Perry and Ronnie Wood on the Liberty fabric and Liberty of London lines.

Earlier this month Liberty revealed the sale of its flagship off Regent Street for 41.5 million pounds, or $62.6 million at current exchange, to a company called Sirosa Liberty Ltd.

Liberty said Tuesday that it will lease back the store on a 30-year contract, at an initial yearly rent of 2.1 million pounds, or $3.2 million.

Following Liberty’s announcement last month that it had received a number of approaches to acquire the company, the board will “report back to shareholders if any of the approaches we have received lead to an offer being made for the company,” stated Richard Balfour-Lynn, chairman of Liberty.