Fenn Wright Manson, the contemporary womenswear retailer and wholesaler, plans to more than quadruple its number of standalone stores after revealing robust trading figures.
The retailer, which traded from eight standalone stores and 63 concessions at its year end, increased sales by 8% to £23.3m in the year to January 31. Pre-tax profits fell £200,000 to £1.4m, a 13% decline.
Founder Colin Fenn told Drapers that Fenn Wright Manson, which has more than 250 stockists, could expand to 50 standalone stores over the next five years, making it similar in size to rival Phase Eight.
By the end of this month, when it opens at Reigate in Surrey, the retailer will have opened four stores this year, taking its total to 12.
Fenn said that wholesale revenues are rising strongly. “Reaction to the spring 10 wholesale collections has been very substantial,” he said. “If we carry on at the current rate, we’ll be about 40% ahead of last year.”
He added that wholesaling as a proportion of Fenn Wright Manson’s business was shrinking, but that it still represented about 25% of the total.
Despite industry-wide volatile trading conditions, Fenn said that Fenn Wright Mason’s performance had been “better than expected” this year.
He added that although August had been “tricky”, like-for-like sales were 5% ahead last week.
Like-for-likes in the first half of the year dropped 3%, which Fenn said was a “good result” in view of the prevailing climate. “All in all, we’ve come through it reasonably so far,” he said.
Fenn said the retailer was capitalising on the availability of favourable property deals in the downturn and that it was targeting market towns for store openings.
He added: “Is business as strong as we’d like? The answer is ‘no’.
“Is it providing opportunities for us? Yes it is.”