MILAN — OVS SpA, Italy’s leading mass market clothing retailer, saw a 220.7 percent increase in net profit for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31 to 81.1 million euros, or $91.4 million at current exchange rates, from 25.3 million euros, or $28.5 million, in fiscal 2015.
The improvement owes much to the company’s initial public offering on the Italian Stock Exchange in March 2015, undertaken to finance growth and reduce debt. The flotation provided a net capital increase of 349.1 million euros, or $393.5 million, which helped OVS slash net debt from 624.4 million euros, or $703.8 million, in January 2015 to 235 million euros, or $265 million, in January 2016. Operations improvements also boosted profits.
“Growth in net profit is remarkable due to improved operations management and lower finance charges,” said chief executive officer Stefano Beraldo.
Revenues rose 7.5 percent from 2014 to 2015 to 1.32 billion euros, or $1.49 billion, despite continued contraction in the sector as a whole in Italy. OVS opened 189 stores in 2015 between franchises and directly controlled units, but also improved sales in existing locations. The company now has more than 1,200 stores in Italy and abroad.
“The country’s trend toward modern, organized retail consolidation continues and OVS SpA proves to be the player who, more than any other, is able to benefit from this trend, with a market share growing steadily to reach 7 percent in December 2015,” said Beraldo.
That figure represents a gain of 60 basis points over December 2014.
“Significant investments have been made to support brand awareness, with marketing and advertising campaigns,” Beraldo added.
OVS has focused on becoming a trendier fast-fashion destination, developing a more stylish and higher-quality offering than in the past, while its UPIM chain has been repositioned in the “family value” segment with store formats renovated to be more attractive for and consistent with that target.
“UPIM’s path continues excellent growth, with sales and [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization] increasing by 12.9 percent and 80.7 percent over the previous year, respectively,” highlighted Beraldo.
The ceo noted that e-commerce still offers few returns for the market segment served by OVS and UPIM; however, there are signs of change. Customers increasingly researched purchases online last year. Meanwhile, OVS SpA has opened an e-commerce channel in Spain and reached an agreement with Zalando for online sales of OVS branded products in 14 countries.
OVS Spa is 52 percent controlled by Gruppo Coin SpA, with the remaining shares publicly listed. Coin is owned by the private equity firm BC Partners.
OVS shares closed at 5.38 euros, or $6.06, on Thursday, giving the company a market capitalization of 1.21 billion euros, or $1.36 million.