LONDON — Mulberry’s second-half sales have picked up considerably, following a tough six months and a pretax loss of 1.1 million pounds, or $1.9 million, in the period ended Sept. 30.
Godfrey Davis, the brand’s chairman and chief executive officer, said on Thursday that, in the nine weeks to Nov. 29, retail revenue was up 8 percent. In the four-week period leading up to that date, sales rose 19 percent.
Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates.
“I’m feeling a little more confident,” said Davis during an interview. “The steps we’re taking are starting to show results. There are still three very important shopping weeks left until Christmas, but what we’re seeing is a step in the right direction.”
It’s been an action-packed few days for Davis, who last week made the long-awaited announcement of a new creative director for the brand. Johnny Coca, who has been working at Céline, will join Mulberry in July, succeeding Emma Hill, who left the company 18 months ago.
Davis told WWD that Mulberry’s “core customer groups and the British consumer” have been fueling the sales surge in October and November. It’s an achievement for Mulberry, which saw its core customers fall away over the past two years after the brand adopted a pricing structure that was too heavily focused on the high end.
There is now a wider variety of price points. Davis said, “We’re seeing an increase in the number of items bought.”
He said the new Tessie and Cara Delevingne bag families have been performing well and that the most recent bestsellers include a tote that comes in a variety of colors, priced at 495 pounds, or $775; a Bayswater bag, costing under 1,000 pounds, or $1,566, and a Mini Lily bag at 350 pounds, or $548.
“The marketing team is getting back on the right wavelength with the customer, too,” said Davis, citing the brand’s recent Christmas ad. The film short depicts a posh twentysomething opening Christmas gifts from family members eager to outdo each another. She gets a real puppy dog that’s been trained to wave, a live white unicorn and a hand-painted portrait of herself. Much to the chagrin of her family members, she jumps for joy only after unwrapping a big Mulberry bag from Santa.
In a report released on Thursday, Barclays called Mulberry’s recent trading figures “encouraging, providing some confidence on full-year 2014-15 figures, and first evidence that the strategy is working. While this is early days, it is notably better” than the first half’s trends.
Mulberry has been working on multiple fronts in the effort to restore its fortunes. In October, the brand embraced omnichannel sales, introducing click-and-collect, in-store online ordering and returns. The take-up has been strong, according to Barclays.
It has also completed the lion’s share of its international brick-and-mortar investment and, most recently, opened stores in Frankfurt and Dallas and a concession at Galeries Lafayette, where sales have been particularly strong, according to Davis. He said Mulberry is on track to open a Paris flagship on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré midway through next year.
Over the past three years, Mulberry has opened 20 stores internationally. As of Sept. 30, it had a global footprint of 120 stores, including directly operated units and franchises.
Mulberry now has a foundation of enough units to grow globally, Davis said, adding, “The focus is now on building markets around those stores.”
In the first half, Mulberry Group plc posted a loss of 410,000 pounds, or $689,000, following a 17 percent decline in sales and an earlier warning from management that pretax profit for the full year would be “significantly” below expectations.
Mulberry said its pretax loss in the six months to Sept. 30 reflected lower sales, the increase in costs associated with new stores opened this year and last year, and the lower gross margin.
As reported, first-half revenues in the period to Sept. 30 were 64.7 million pounds, or $104.8 million.