UK footwear chains hopeful despite lossesBy Edward Devlin, Senior Digital Staff Writer
Two of Britain's major footwear brands have had mixed fortunes as their Dutch parent continues its restructuring of the companies.
Brantano and Jones Bootmaker, which share headquarters in Leicestershire, have both registered losses for a third consecutive year.
Parent company Macintosh Retail Group wrote off millions of pounds in 2012 to cover losses as part of a three-year restructuring plan for the retailers. The results of the plan are still feeding through with mixed results for 2013, according to the latest accounts filed.
David Short, managing director of Macintosh Fashion UK, told Insider: "2013 was a challenging year with difficult weather conditions at peak selling periods. It was also a year of transition with the final stages of our integration of the Brantano and Jones Bookmaker businesses into our central head office and distribution centre in Coalville.
"In 2014, we have seen considerable progress in results. Sales have been much improved and we have seen significant benefits arising from our integration programme. We are pleased with our progress in both formats."
Brantano, which sells well-known brands such as Clarks, Hush Puppies, Skechers and Nike across its portfolio of 130 stores, experienced another fall in sales in the 12 months ended 31 December 2013. Turnover was down 4 per cent to £94.7m in what it called a "difficult" year because of the current economic climate in the retail sector.
Following a full review of the property portfolio, the director identified a number of additional underperforming stores affecting group profits. Operating losses, before exceptional items, widened in 2013 from £670,000 to £3m and from £1.4m to £3.9m at a pre-tax level. However, lower exceptional charges for items such as onerous lease provision led to slightly lower overall losses.
"Although the market remains challenging, the business is moving forward positively," Brantano's accounts said. "The store expansion program is continuing in 2014 and the directors are confident that the business is well positioned to take full advantage of any improvement in the trading climate."
Macintosh Retail Group made the decision in 2012 to integrate Jones Bootmaker into Brantano's warehouse and head office site in Bardon, near Coalville, with the move completed in 2013.
It led to costs of almost £2m for Jones, pushing the brand from an underlying operating profit of £1m to a loss of £1.5m – which was still better than 2012's £2.9m loss.
Sales at the upmarket chain, which operates out of about 110 shops across the UK, climbed in 2013 from £73.9m – for an 11-month period – to £78.3m as nine stores and eight concessions opened, with four closures.
"Despite the continued uncertain economic conditions, the company is actively seeking new store locations to expand the store network," the accounts added.
"Throughout the period the company has continued to make significant investment in the business and as part of the ongoing strategy of modernising the store portfolio. The directors are satisfied with the performance of new stores and the overall growth in turnover."