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Fashion focus pays off for The Original Factory Shop

Profits soared at The Original Factory Shop for the year to March 31, as the discount department store chain continues its focus on fashion.

Total sales were up by 7.1% to £208m while pre-exceptional EBITDA increased 50% on the previous year to £14.2m.

Total like-for-like sales rose by 4.2% but were outperformed by womenswear like-for-like sales, which were up by 10%, thanks to an increasingly fashion-led marketing approach.

The company signed more than 50 new brand partnerships in the period with labels including Pretty Polly, Weird Fish and Jeff Banks.

Footwear like-for-like sales were up by 22% during the year, with branded trainers proving particularly successful.

The chain opened 11 new stores in the period, including its first retail park unit: a 9,500 sq ft store at the Vale Retail Park in Aylesbury in March.

It also made its entry into larger towns such as Salisbury and expanded its smaller-format shops of around 3,000 sq ft to a total of three, with two more in the pipeline.

The Original Factory Shop had 206 stores by the year-end.

The discounter increased the operational capacity of the existing warehouse, and trebled investment into the existing store estate, although a company spokeswoman declined to give any details.

Six new directors were appointed, including former Scotts Menswear buying controller Richard Robinson, who became head of buying for fashion in June, and Michael Haworth, menswear category buying manager at flash Sales site MySale.co.uk, as senior buyer for menswear.

Chief executive Tony Page said: “This has been a year of milestones: our 200th store; entry into larger towns; and our first retail park location.

“We look forward with eager anticipation for further progress as we continue to roll out our growth strategy throughout next year.”

The Original Factory Shop has also agreed new banking facilities of £35m.

@Tara_Hounslea

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