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Brantano positive on current trade despite 'difficult' 2011

Out-of-town footwear chain Brantano has said trade in this financial year is a lot more encouraging after admitting it had a “difficult” year in 2011.

Speaking exclusively to Drapers in the week that Brantano reported its full-year results for the 12-month period to December 31, 2011, managing director David Short said that absorbing the VAT hike and a decrease in footfall both contributed to a difficult year for the retailer.

Brantano reported a £3.7m pre-tax loss in 2011 against a pre-tax profit of £920,000 in 2010 earlier this week. Turnover fell from £105m to £97m in the period.

“We took the VAT hit which was ultimately a good decision when we saw how much consumer spending was squeezed,” said Short.

“Also footfall declined by 9% and we were dealing with inappropriate weather conditions in both the first half and the second half of the year so all of that combined was somewhat of a perfect storm contributing to a tough year.”

However, Short added that in this financial year the retailer had seen things pick-up and was currently trading up 2.4% on a like-for-like basis. He also said investment in its ecommerce business meant that internet sales were up 150% year-on-year.

Brantano closed four of its less profitable or loss making stores in 2011 but opened a further five new stores. This year the retailer will close a further five stores but will open 12.

“We have an aggressive store opening programme and plan to open 50 stores over the next three years” said Short.

Short added that combining Brantano’s back office functions with those of Jones Bootmaker, which shares the same parent company, due to be completed in January will lead to further cost savings for the retailer in 2013.

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