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Exclusive: Growth at Coast, Oasis and Warehouse ahead of possible sale

Oasis, Coast and Warehouse have revealed improved profit figures for the year to 27 February as their owner prepares them for a possible sale, Drapers can reveal.

Holding company Aurora Fashion Group, which is majority owned by the administrators of now-defunct Icelandic bank Kaupthing, has appointed professional services firm PwC to explore options to sell the three womenswear retailers.

A statement from Aurora said: “The board now feels that the time is right to conduct a strategic review of the business and have appointed PwC to consider and advise the board on strategic options that will continue to support future growth.”

Karen Millen, which was spun off from Aurora in 2011 but is still owned by Kaupthing, is not up for sale, a spokeswoman said.

Coast returned to profit in the year to 27 February after it exited 11 loss-making stores and renewed its focus on a “more streamlined cost base”. Pre-tax profits reached £1.3m, up from a loss of £10.8m in 2015. 

During 2016, Coast launched a new flagship concept store at Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead, and a new concession concept in the House of Fraser in Victoria, London.

Online sales were up 16% for the period and now represent 27% of the total.

Pre-tax profits at Oasis were up 2% year on year to £6.3m. It completed nine store refurbishments during the year and launched a new flagship store concept on Tottenham Court Road in November 2015, which won the Drapers Award for Best Store Design last month.

The retailer also trialled a market town store format in Farnham, Surrey, this year and has earmarked 30 possible locations for a further rollout. During the period, Oasis replatformed its website, which increased online sales by 15%. 

Warehouse reduced its losses before tax to £1.3m from £3.1m in 2015 as it embarked on a transformation programme that included significant investment in IT, a digital replatform and a new-concept London flagship store. Online sales were up 12% over the period.

Alasdhair Willis was appointed as a brand consultant and Emma Cook as design director in November 2015. Cook’s first collection for Warehouse was autumn 16. Warehouse said it was still at an “early stage” of its relaunch and was in a position to move into profit in 2018.

None of the retailers provided total or like-for-like sales figures.

Liz Evans, chief executive of Oasis and Warehouse, said: “There has been significant investment in creating a robust independent infrastructure for each brand, as well as investment in the teams to ensure we have the right foundations in place to enable us to build a digital-first business across both brands. This gives us the confidence that we will continue to drive growth this financial year.”

Andrew Skinner, managing director of Coast, added: “The results are testament that our renewed focus on the unique design, beauty, quality and value of our products is resonating with our customers, which resulted in a higher mix of full-price sales and subsequent margin improvement.”

Kaupthing was nationalised during Iceland’s financial crisis, between 2008 and 2011, and acquired Oasis, Coast and Warehouse in 2009 from Mosaic Fashions, which entered administration after shareholder Icelandic investment group Baugur collapsed.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Remarkable how profits always appear to improve in advance of a sale.

    Any chance a department store chain or the likes of Next to shake the tree?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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