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Fenwick eyes further expansion despite 'challenging' year

Fenwick said it is continuing to actively pursue opportunities to expand its retail footprint, despite the 11-strong department store chain reporting sales and profitability suffered in the year ended January 31.

Sales fell by 1.6% to £426.6m and profit before tax fell from £35m to £30m for the 52 weeks against the previous 53-week period.

The board of directors set the figures against a “very competitive” UK retail sector in 2014, which they said featured excess capacity and more promotional activity.

“Retailers suffered in the mild autumn and footfall across the sector was challenging with a final quarter dominated by aggressive discounting and squeezed margins,” said secretary Jill Anders in documents filed to Companies House. “Against this backdrop the group was unable to match the prior year 53-week sales volumes and profitability suffered.”

The group said it is continuing a major investment programme within its stores to strengthen its competitive position. It is also making ongoing investment to transform its IT infrastructure, digital capability and online platform. Its transactional website was suspended last year pending a comprehensive overhaul.

Fenwick also boosted its property portfolio with an acquisition on New Bond Street in London during the year.

The company is poised to open its first new store in 14 years in 2017 at the new £240m Lexicon Bracknell retail and leisure destination, with the store set to replace the existing Fenwick-owned unit in the town, the Bentalls store that was part of the acquisition of that family-owned group in 2001.


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