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East halves losses despite fall in turnover and earnings

Womenswear chain East has halved its operating losses to just over £700,000, despite the “exceptionally mild autumn” hitting sales.

Turnover for the year to March 29 fell 2% to £39.7m, though like-for-likes rose 0.2%. Sales in the UK were £38.8m, down from £44.3m the year before.

Sales in the rest of Europe declined from £1.8m to £873,900.

EBITDA fell 69% from £281,000 to £86,000. The business made an operating loss of £712,300 during the period, down from a £1.5m loss the year before. In the UK, it reduced its losses before tax from £1.3m to £761,900.

Gross profit rose 1.2% to £25.6m, with gross margin improving 1.8% to 64.5%, which East put down to better stock and freight management, improved intake margin, tighter stock buys and in-season promotional activity.

Pre-tax profits for Europe fell to £49,600 from £220,200 the year before.

East closed three stores and two concessions during the year. It now has 61 standalone stores and 43 concessions, with plans to open more of both this year.

The retailer declined to comment on the figures.

A statement on its Companies House listing said: “Following a strong start to the year with the spring/summer collections, sales suffered from August onwards as customers were reluctant to buy into the autumn/winter collections, while the country enjoyed an exceptionally mild autumn.

“This led to unbudgeted promotional and discounting activities, in order to manage stock levels.”

As Drapers reported in June, East has upgraded its stock and sales software system with a view to becoming omnichannel this autumn.

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