Survive and Prosper

What’s been happening over the last week? Over the general economic doom and gloom has been a raft of good figures from Britain’s retailers.

John Lewis continued their good start to the year by last week claiming that Fashion sales were 30% up on the same week last year.

Laura Ashley revealed a like-for-like sales rise of 5.3% in the 17 weeks to May 29.

New Look defied the recession to post a 17.7% hike in profits to £163m for the year to March 27.

Womenswear retailer East returned to profit in the year to January 31 and is planning to open further stores and concessions.

Peter Simon and his family shared a recession- defying dividend of £14m as Monsoon reported an eightfold increase in profits, from £3.96m  to £32.96m and plan to open 140 stores in the next 12 months.

All Saints has put British fashion firmly on the global map after it racked up sales of nearly $1m (£680,000) in its first week of trading on New York’s iconic shopping thoroughfare Broadway.

So is the recession over? Are people spending like ‘there’s no tomorrow’ on  clothes again?

Clearly not as retail sales this year have been broadly flat and in real terms negative taking into account the VAT increase and inflation. But perhaps the ‘fall out’ in the High Street has now stabilised. According to Deloitte, in the first 3 months of this year, the number of retail companies going into administration fell to 44, compared with 124 in the first quarter of 2009 – representing a four-year low and a drop of 65%.

We have said goodbye to Morgan, Officers Club, Faith Shoes, Woolworths, Adams, USC, QS, Envy, Principals, MK One and Ethel Austin to name but a few. Some of the shops have been sold, some bought out of Administration but in the main they’ve left a void on the High Street with the sales being picked up by the survivors.

So it’s survival of the fittest! If you’ve got the required funding in place,  the right stock at a fair price and overheads under control you should be able to look forward to slow but steady recovery with a bigger slice of the smaller cake.

Tony Heywood – Gilcrest Services Ltd
Retail Troubleshooter
Business Turnaround and Recovery

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