Boohoo eyes struggling fashion brands after trading beats forecasts
Boohoo has said it is ready and able to buy up ailing brands after reporting better than expected trading.
The online fashion specialist, which has been flagged as a potential buyer for the Oasis and Warehouse chains that collapsed into administration last week, reported a 54% rise in pre-tax profits to £92m as sales increased 44% to £1.2bn in the year to 29 February.
The group – which owns PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal, Coast, Karen Millen and MissPap as well as the main Boohoo site – said sales had taken a hit after the government imposed restrictions on movement on 23 March, but had bounced back to better than last year’s levels in recent weeks.
Boohoo said it could not provide profit guidance for the year ahead because of uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, which might result in the closure of its warehouses at some point. But the company said it had a strong balance sheet, with £241m of cash at year end and was “well-placed to … continue to disrupt fashion markets around the world”.
Neil Catto, Boohoo’s finance director, said: “Our priority at the moment has been the wellbeing of our teams and coping with the crisis.” But he added: “Our balance sheet is strong and we have the ability to look at opportunities to help other brands through the crisis. It is likely many opportunities will arise in the coming weeks and we will take a look at those and make an assessment on whether we can add value.” He declined to say whether Boohoo was looking at Oasis and Warehouse.
Carol Kane, the joint chief executive of Boohoo, said that during the lockdown shoppers had switched away from body-con dresses and evening outfits to athleisure wear such as hoodies, jogging pants and nightwear suited to time indoors. “It is more of a casual package,” she said.
She said Boohoo had been able to quickly adapt its supply chain to difficulties such as the factory closures in China and the need for physical distancing in UK factories. “Our lead times are short and that has played to our benefit. Fabric that might have gone into one garment has been switched to another more appropriate to demand,” she said.
The company said it was confident its warehouses were operating safely after introducing measures to ensure physical distancing.
Boohoo has faced criticism from some workers and the Usdaw union about inadequate personal protection equipment and working practices that Usdaw says did not ensure necessary physical distancing at the company’s Burnley warehouse.
Source: Read Full Article