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Mulberry's cheaper bags stem sales decline

The decision to lower entry prices for its bags has paid dividends for Mulberry, with a turnaround in sales attributed to the new collection.

The Tessie collection has been “well received” since its launch two weeks ago, making a “significant impact” since its arrival, according to executive chairman Godfrey Davis.

He told Drapers: “We’ve listened to our customers and the new range has been selling really well. The changes and products we’ve introduced are working and I’m confident that will continue. We can already see an impact. Next season, we will be reinforcing the collection at entry level.”

He refused to give further details about how many more entry-level products could be added.

Tessie, which was introduced on June 1, has retail prices 10% lower than previous lines, from £495 for a small satchel to £595 for a tote.

In a trading update on the 10 weeks to June 7, Davis said sales for the first week of June were down 10% on the same period in 2013. In the week beginning June 8, however, sales were flat compared with the previous year – which he attributed to the collection’s launch.

The business would not provide week-on-week figures for the first two weeks in June.

This follows an overall decline in sales across full-price stores, which Davis said was offset by “significant growth” in outlet store sales for the year to March 31. A specific breakdown of sales figures for the two formats was not provided.

Finding a replacement for Emma Hill to fill the role of creative director was a “top priority”, Davis said, ahead of replacing former chief executive Bruno Guillon, who left in March. Hill left last summer but has not yet resurfaced in another role. Guillon’s plans are not known.

“We have two positions to fill but we are focused on the creative director role,” said Davis. “Then we will consider a new chief executive. We want to ensure we have the right person to lead the design team – you can’t rush that.”

Davis would not give an indication as to when the creative director role could be filled.

In its full-year results to March 31, UK retail sales were £91.9m. Pre-tax profits slumped 45% and like-for-like sales dropped 3% to £109m.

Total sales decreased to £163.5m, down from £165.1m in 2013, while wholesale revenues fell 6% to £54.5m, due to slower UK and Asian sales. Mulberry said a double-digit decline in wholesale sales was expected for this financial year.

Like-for-like retail sales declined 15% in the 10 weeks to June 7. International retail sales rose 11% to £17.1m.

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