Mulberry swings to loss amid House of Fraser woes

Luxury brand Mulberry had a difficult year in its UK business as the collapse of House of Fraser took its toll.

The company reported a pre-tax loss of £5 million for the 53 weeks to March 30, down from a profit of £6.9 million the previous year.

The administration of House of Fraser in August last year cost the brand £2.1 million, while additional costs came from the launch of a South Korea subsidiary and taking over the operation of its own concessions in John Lewis.

With these stripped out, adjusted profits were £1 million for the period.

Revenue, meanwhile, slipped to £166.3 million, down from £169.7 million last year. While international sales jumped 7%, the UK was down 6%.

Digital sales were up 27%, representing 22% of group revenue.

Chief executive Thierry Andretta said growth was likely to continue to come from overseas and online channels in the near future.

“Looking ahead, we anticipate that international and digital sales will continue to grow whilst UK retail trading conditions are expected to remain uncertain,” he said.

“The group plans to invest further in its new Asian entities during this development phase, enhance its global digital platform and optimise the UK network.”

In April this year, the group launched a new global concession on luxury shopping website Farfetch as it moves to bolster digital sales.

The figures come as the brand shifts its strategic focus to include more direct-to-consumer sales channels.

In the second half it changed its relationship with John Lewis, which had previously been a wholesale customer, to open concessions in its stores.

More recent figures show some signs of recovery in the UK, with sales up 7% in the 11 weeks to June 15. But international growth outstripped this with 31% growth.

Shares in the company were trading 6.37% higher at lunchtime on Wednesday.