LONDON — Like their U.S. counterparts, British retailers are having a tough ride. Marks and Spencer Group plc is expected to announce up to 1,000 job cuts today along with a fall in sales.
However, Christmas sales — at least for some — were not as bleak as expected.
The department store chain Debenhams reported a 3.5 percent drop in sales for the 18 weeks ended Jan. 3. The company said Tuesday that pretax profits for the period had risen compared with the same period last year, due to an extraordinary gain, “tight management of costs and stocks and our decision to focus on the levers that drive cash margin.”
Fashion retailer Next reported a 7 percent decline in sales in the 21 weeks to Dec. 24, compared with the same period last year. But the company said the fall in sales was “within the guidance” that Next had given in September.
“This was despite a worsening consumer environment and a significant increase in competitor markdown activity prior to Christmas,” the company said Tuesday, adding that it had resisted discounting its products before Christmas and that “stocks were well controlled going into the end of season sale.”
Next said it expects to achieve its profit forecast of between 415 million and 435 million pounds, or $611 million to $641 million at current exchange, for the year to January 2009. The company’s shares rose 13 percent to 1,222 pence, or $17.87, per share, on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon following the news.
Meanwhile, New Look, the fast-fashion retailer owned by Apax Partners and Permira, reported an uptick in sales, despite the muted consumer mood over the Christmas period. The company said same-store sales in the U.K. Rose 2.8 percent in the 14 weeks to Jan. 3, while New Look’s group sales rose 14.5 percent during the period, driven by store expansion in the U.K. and Europe.
“We are winning in an increasingly difficult market by staying focused on the delivery of the fashion our customers want at prices they can afford,” said Phil Wrigley, executive chairman of New Look, on Tuesday. The company also revealed plans to open a store in Moscow early this year.
And at the opposite end of the market, Liberty, the Regent Street specialty store, also fared well in the holiday period. While the company did not release sales figures, it said sales in December had “exceeded expectations” and that sales at its online store also grew last month.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
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BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye