SuperGroup gets knitwear boost

SuperdryClothing retailer SuperGroup has reported soaring Christmas sales, helped by demand for its jackets and knitwear.

The SuperDry owner posted a better-than-expected 10.6% hike in like-for-like retail sales to £89.9 million in the 13 weeks to January 27, as its hats, gloves, scarves and headphones also flew off the shelves.

Shares in the group, which started life as a market stall in Cheltenham, leapt 8% as the solid festive performance kept it on track to meet City expectations that full year profits will jump 15% to £49.3 million.

Chief executive Julian Dunkerton said that while trading conditions remained volatile and unpredictable, the strong sales and response to its new season ranges provided the group with "ever increasing confidence for the future".

Margins also improved as the group sold more products through its own shops and website.

Jean Roche, analyst at Panmure Gordon, said the UK retail performance seemed all the more impressive given the pressure on high street footfall in January.

She said: "The tone of the statement - Julian Dunkerton speaks of 'ever increasing confidence for the future', is one of the most bullish we have seen among third quarter and Christmas trading statements."

The upbeat trading update comes after profits at SuperGroup plunged 14.7% last year following an accountancy blunder. It was also caught out by stock shortages as it struggled to keep up with its rapid rate of expansion.

SuperGroup said it was on track to open 70,000 sq.ft of new shop space in the full year, having opened new outlets in Leeds, Inverness, Paris and Antwerp in Belgium in the quarter. It also opened its first larger shop model outside the UK in Oberhausen in Germany.

Sales in its wholesale division were up 5.4% on the previous year in the quarter at £25.3 million.
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