Liberty, the iconic London department store and fabric brand, saw sales rise but pre-tax losses widen from £6.4 million to £7m for the year to December 31.
Liberty said that sales rose 9% to £50.2 million over the period, but most of this was driven by an uplift in sales of its fabrics, which have come back into fashion.
The Liberty Art Fabrics division, which is responsible for collaborations with brands like Nike and Balmain, saw sales rise 25% and EBITDA grow 35%. Kate Moss’s Topshop current collection features Liberty-print dresses.
“Our principal aim is to re-capture our position as London’s destination for all that is avant-garde in the world of fashion whether that be womenswear, shoes, jewellery, accessories or fabrics. “
Liberty chairman Richard Balfour-Lynn
However the flagship department store in Great Malborough Street did not see growth, with sales “virtually” matching the previous year’s of £32m. Liberty said it regarded the performance as “very creditable” in the current climate.
Within store performance, men’s sales grew 6%.
Liberty said that losses grew partly because it had invested in opening a Liberty of London standalone and a new transactional website during the year.
The Liberty of London standalone, which opened last June in London’s Sloane Street, performed below expectations but Liberty said it was an important branding exercise to help build its Liberty of London wholesale range, which launched in 2007. Liberty of London now has more than 100 stockists worldwide.
Liberty added that since the relaunch of its reconfigured store in February, trading and margins had achieved 12% growth over the comparative period last year. It said that this was ahead of expectations.
Liberty chairman Richard Balfour-Lynn said of the turnaround strategy: “Our principal aim is to re-capture our position as London’s destination for all that is avant-garde in the world of fashion whether that be womenswear, shoes, jewellery, accessories or fabrics. In turn this will enable our transactional website to expand globally, it will nurture the Liberty of London collections and make the brand more desirable. The website will also make our Liberty prints even more popular and fashionable, both to artists and discerning shopper alike, for whom Liberty will again become the retail destination of choice.”
He added: “We appreciate we are entering a difficult and uncertain economic period. However, I am confident that investing during these challenging times to refocus our identity will considerably improve our ability to achieve our vision and create value for shareholders.”
Read an interview with Liberty chief executive Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye here.