LONDON — After a trying first half, the tide seems to be turning for Mulberry, which warned in October that sales and profits would fall short of market expectations.
On Thursday, the company said profits declined 35 percent to 7.3 million pounds, or $11.6 million, in the six months to Sept. 30.
The decline was due to higher operating costs as Mulberry upgrades its distribution network, more cautious ordering from its Asian franchise partners due to a slowdown in demand and tough comparative sales.
Revenue in the period rose 5.6 percent to 76.5 million pounds, or $120.9 million, on the back of increased U.K. and international retail sales. All figures have been calculated at average exchange rates for the six months.
The second half is off to a solid start: The company said retail revenue climbed 19 percent in the first nine weeks to Dec. 1, with same-store sales up 11 percent.
Bruno Guillon, Mulberry’s new chief executive officer, said the downturn in profits is part of a bigger strategic story.
“Our big challenge is turning Mulberry into a global luxury brand, a global success story,” he said. “It’s been a fantastic success story in the U.K. and we need to attract new customers without losing the existing ones. And we are working on building sustainable, long-term growth. Our challenge is how to remain an English brand but still be understandable to the Chinese, German and American customers.”
Part of that work, he said, has involved “rationalizing the wholesale network, because it has to be consistent with our retail stores — some of our partners were just not in line with our strategy, but we have some very good wholesale accounts such as Selfridges, Le Printemps and Le Bon Marché.”
He said the wholesale cull was an ongoing process and, “I hope I don’t have to do too much more in the future. In the end, our strategy is all about consistency, quality and defending the brand.”
Mulberry has also upgraded its outlet business and is no longer making product specifically for outlet stores, which has impacted financial performance in the short term.
Guillon, who was formerly managing director of Hermès France, said Mulberry’s retail expansion was on track, with a total of 17 to 20 new stores planned for the current fiscal year, and “around 20 store openings” planned each year for the next four to five years.
So far this year, stores have opened in markets including Singapore, San Francisco, Zurich and Berlin.
“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