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Mulberry Group in Japan Deal

Company reported higher profits and sales for the first six months of its fiscal year.

LONDON — Mulberry is making further inroads into the Far East with a joint venture set for Japan, as the company reported higher profits and sales for the first six months of its fiscal year.

On Thursday, Mulberry Group plc said profits in the first half ended Sept. 30 more than tripled to 11.3 million pounds, or $18.31 million, on the back of growing international sales.

Sales rose 61.8 percent to 72.3 million, or $117.1 million, boosted by new store openings and international revenues. All figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the period.

“Our strategy to focus on international expansion continues to bear fruit,” said Godfrey Davis, chairman and chief executive officer.

“Against the backdrop of economic uncertainty, Mulberry continues to build market share internationally, and we remain cautiously optimistic about the future prospects of the business.”

Sales in the first weeks of the current half were also on the rise: For the 10 weeks to Dec. 3, retail sales were up 18 percent and underlying sales rose 14 percent against strong comparatives.

Orders for the spring season are up 29 percent, with three months of the selling season remaining.

Nine store openings are planned for the second half. Davis told WWD that a unit would open in San Francisco in April, while the company was also scouting for space in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities.

Davis said he has not seen any evidence of a sales slowdown. “I look at those weekly results and they’re not showing evidence of one,” he said. He said that, in the U.K., customers are increasingly buying items in “safer, less fashion-driven colors.”

He also confirmed that a joint venture for distribution in the Japanese market was going ahead. The joint venture is owned by Club 21 and Mammina Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. IMH is one of the largest department store chains in Japan. Club 21 is controlled by Ong Beng Seng and Christina Ong, who also have a 57 percent stake in Mulberry through a holding company called Challice Ltd.

Through the terms of the new agreement, IMH will progressively make prime space available for Mulberry at its department stores. The 10-year agreement foresees the opening of a series of shop-in-shops, as well was Mulberry flagships in Tokyo and Osaka.