Manolo Blahnik has entered its 50th anniversary year with high hopes, and relief that the COVID-19 crisis, which dented sales and profits last year, is winding down.
The brand said Monday that fiscal 2021 is forecast to be the group’s most successful year to date, with turnover for the eight months to Aug. 31 up by 81 percent year-on-year and 8 percent compared with 2019.
In the full year, global e-commerce sales are set to rise in the triple digits. In the eight months to Aug. 31, sales were up 120 percent compared to the same period in 2020.
“As we celebrate our 50th year, we do so in confidence and are hopeful that it will be our best yet,” said Kristina Blahnik, the company’s chief executive officer.
Last year was a tough one for Manolo Blahnik, which saw sales decrease by 7 percent to 42.3 million euros in the 12 months to Dec. 31, 2020.
The company booked a loss of 4.75 million euros, an increase of 6 percent on the previous year’s figure, due to COVID-19 the integration of the U.S. business, foreign exchange rates and a slight decline in gross margin.
Like-for-like sales were down 28 percent, according to figures published Monday on Companies House, the official register of U.K. businesses. The company said that the difference between total sales and like-for-like sales was due to the trading in the U.S.
The new Manolo Blahnik Group entity in the U.S. did not commence trading until Jan. 1, 2020. As reported, Manolo Blahnik brought the U.S. business in-house in 2019, and promised “significant strategic investment” in its North American operations.
Earlier this year the company opened two retail boutiques, in East Hampton and a flagship on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
The business had previously been run for 37 years under license by the late George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis.
The company said that global e-commerce sales increased by 39 percent in 2020 and that all employee positions were protected throughout the year.
“Given the full effects of the global pandemic were felt throughout our entire operations and teams, we are very pleased with these  results and the many positives that came out of such a difficult time,” said Kristina Blahnik.
“Our number-one focus was to make sure our teams felt safe, and our community felt supported, the outcome has ensured a strong team resourced to face a very positive future.”
The company said it streamlined operations during the pandemic year, reducing its collections from four to three seasons, a move that contributed to the sales decline.
Expenditure also increased due to the continued integration of Manolo Blahnik Americas, and the brand’s manufacturing subsidiary, Calzaturificio Re Marcello.
The group said its balance sheet remains positive with a high net asset position of 77.2 million euros and strong liquidity ratio, figures that “instill confidence in the business’ ability to meet all financial obligations as well as any long-term investment opportunities.”
During the pandemic the company said it honored its commitments to employees, and its head count has since grown by 3 percent. It also remains committed to mental health with the Smile initiative, which launched across all digital channels in April 2020.
As part of the initiative, people can download a collection of Manolo Blahnik’s sketches, color them in, and share them on social media as part of an exercise in mindfulness. The brand has partnered with the Mental Health Foundation in the U.K. on the project.
To mark the 50th anniversary, Manolo Blahnik has designed a gold capsule collection, which will land in-store and online from November. The company described the capsule as a summary of five decades of work in one collection and said it features “an extensive range of new styles, reimagined classics” and signature designs.