Aspinal of London sales soar but investment hurts profits

High-end bags and leathergoods brand Aspinal of London said sales soared 27% in its latest financial year, reaching £23.7m in the 12 months to March 31 2016. The increase highlighted just why it is seen as a takeover target for European and Asian luxury investors.


Fast-growing Aspinal of London is seen as a takeover target


Its online and wholesale ops were mainly behind the increase but new stores also helped. However, the investment spend on stores, including the new Royal Exchange location in London, also had a negative effect of profits.

In the year to March 31, its losses on an EBITDA basis worsened to £2.3m from £1.5m a year earlier and that impact is likely to have continued post-year-end with new stores having opened in Leeds and Edinburgh in October and December.

But the tone of the earnings report was upbeat with the company hailing its new stores and its new concessions (in House of Fraser in Belfast, Dundrum and the City of London). It also highlighted continued growth in the wholesale channel, and a “significant” e-tail rise. That was helped by a  focus on data-driven CRM, conversion rate optimisation and experience improvements to the website.

Aspinal wants to increase store numbers to 30 from the current 21 within just over two years. And while that will put a dent in its bottom line, the plan, which will include regional standalone as well as concessions, is predicted to help it to a retail revenue rise of 89% in the year to March 31 2018.

The company also said its strong sales performance continued after the fiscal year ended with the period to August 31 last year seeing a sales surge. While that surge was slightly lower than the prior year’s 27%, a 23% increase is nonetheless impressive in an environment the company admitted continued to be challenging for luxury brands. Trading in the all-important holiday season last month is also believed to have been well ahead.

Last year the company briefed advisers to look at a potential sales with a number of potential buyers in Europe and China believed to be interested.

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