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SuperGroup targets sport, womenswear and e-commerce to drive its runaway Superdry success

Sport and womenswear will provide Superdry with its most “significant opportunities”, parent SuperGroup said of its fast-expanding core brand Monday. Add to that expanding its e-commerce presence and growth in continental Europe, the US and China, and you have the key strands the the retail group’s busy omnichannel plans.

The details came as SuperGroup was forced on Friday into issuing an impressive trading statement following news of leaked documents ahead of the official release due today. Those showed strong growth in sales, up 27.4% to £752m, with same-store sales up 12.7% that led to a 53% jump in fiscal 2017 pretax profit.

So what of the group’s plans?

Let’s start with that focus on sport opportunities. It plans to introduce “a number” of dedicated Sport shop-in-shops in a number of its larger Superdry UK stores and standalone stores in mainland Europe. The latter will see the first opening in Grenoble, France, in October, with another four unnamed locations opening before Christmas. A wider roll-out is scheduled for next year.

SuperGroup said it was encouraged to expand its sportswear offer by wholesale customers: “We’ve had huge demand from our wholesale partners, which is a good indicator. They have been asking us to increase the ranges for them, so this is a natural next step,” said chief executive Euan Sutherland.

“Sport remains a natural evolution for the brand and has shown significant growth in all markets,” he added Monday, noting the athleisure element of its range “provides the natural entry point for customers before widening their buying to more technical products, where options are expanding and building range credibility.”

To that end, the group said it will enhance the technical capability of its range, including improved moisture wicking, weather tolerance and higher visibility while further developing its footwear offer “to participate in this key part of the market”.

For womenswear, SuperGroup said its long-term strategy is to grow the category “to the same value” as Superdry menswear. It “continues to gain traction”, with womenswear again growing marginally faster than menswear, driving an improvement in participation to 36.5%.

It said the brand strategy targets “a more feminine approach to both our product and customer experience”. Its in-house category and design teams have broadened core ranges “to better match and appeal to our identified customer profiles and introduced more regular injections of new ranges to encourage repeat purchase”.

Within store, the merchandising developments delivered within its ‘Next Generation’ store re-fit programme provides the “inspirational story that women are looking for at the point of purchase”.

With “strong” e-commerce growth of 35%, increasing participation of retail sales to 26%, it said online “remains the fastest growing route to our customers”, noting its research shows “multi-channel customers are more valuable to us than single channel customers as they spend more often and have greater brand loyalty”.

It said customer interaction with each of its 27 fully-localised websites continues to be led by mobile use; 67% of visits originated from either a mobile or tablet during the period, with visits from mobiles having grown 34% year-on-year.

It said the growth reflects the “benefit of small incremental improvements to the customer on-line experience” and includes: image based search on search engines such as Google; use of social media to increase awareness and keep customers engaged; changes in creative style of the product imagery and fully responsive technology implemented throughout the site.

Plans for fiscal 2018 include integration of a new order management system into its operations that will facilitate the launch of regional fulfilment capability in its new Belgian warehouse to service continental Europe from the location.

Partner programmes, which include seven sites including Zalando, La Redoute, and The Iconic, have also seen “good growth” during the year and now represents 14% of its e-commerce business.

Finally in its development markets, SuperGroup said its international expansion programmes were “progressing to plan”.

Its focus on owned stores continues to be Continental Europe, “where we remain under-represented and deliver strong returns on capital”. Having opened 14 stores there in fiscal 2017, adding 124,000 sq ft to its 405,000 sq ft total, a further 75,000 sq ft of owned store space will open each year in continental Europe each year.

Meanwhile, establishing a successful presence in North America “is an important and natural step to realising our global ambition,” it said Monday.

“North America provides us with the opportunity to enhance our brand and build significantly the long-term value of our business.”

Having achieved a “break-even” position in North American operations, the company said it will open up to 10 new stores in fiscal 2018, mainly located in clusters within major cities such as Boston and Washington DC. It also plans a flagship in Los Angeles during the coming year.

Finally in its fledgling China ops, SuperGroup said “we believe that the Superdry brand, with the right product, pricing model and infrastructure, is well positioned to be successful.”

Via its 10-year minimum 50:50 joint venture agreement with Trendy International Group, it opened five trial stores with a sixth opened in May and three franchises.

“If the operation of the trial stores is successful we plan to undertake a measured roll-out programme using a combination of owned and franchised stores,” it added.

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