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Pentland boss builds for future growth as profits soar

Chairman of Pentland Brands Andy Rubin has said the business will continue to invest in order to protect itself from uncertain external factors, as group operating profit jumped by 30% to £160m for the year to December 2014.

Revenue across Pentland Group increased 14% to £2.2bn over the year while revenue from Pentland Brands, which includes Speedo, Canterbury of New Zealand and other non-retail businesses, was up 5% to £618m.

Rubin told Drapers the company needs to be flexible in the current economic environment to combat against macro factors such as the EU referendum and the weather.

“We are continuing to invest in people to strengthen our brands and fashion businesses. We did really well growing our business in 2014 and we now need to keep reinvesting to prepare for scenarios that are out of our control. In this market you have to be flexible.”

He added: “The UK is going through an interesting period of growth. Wage inflation is ahead of general inflation and unemployment is at its lowest for five years. Retail sales have grown consistently for two years so we’re in a strong position. However, we’ve all got concerns with the upcoming EU referendum, currency fluctuations and other macro factors.”

The “lousy weather” had hit business in the UK for the outdoor market, according to Rubin, but because the company works across several global markets currency fluctuations are less of an issue.

“It’s always swings and roundabouts [with regard to currency fluctuations]. We buy in dollars and we sell in dollars, pounds and euros so there are both advantages and disadvantages.”

Within the Pentland Brands portfolio Speedo achieved “record sales” for the second year in a row in 2014 driven by the men’s and women’s performance range SpeedoFit and the Sculpture womenswear range.

Canterbury, which was bought by Pentland Brands in September 2012, reported double-digit uplift in the UK and became the official kit supplier for the Irish Rugby Football Union in 2014. It will also be the official kit supplier for the England and Ireland teams at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Rubin said the label is already beginning to see the fruits of the partnership, with customers placing advance orders on rugby jerseys ahead of the event.

Pentland’s retail division, which comprises a 57% stake in JD Sports Fashion, had a 19% increase in revenue to £1.6bn for the year, mainly driven by core JD fascias.

Rubin said the group’s success was also down to investing in other businesses.

“We’re always looking for new investments in other brands and businesses outside of Pentland, such as footwear brands Butterfly Twists and Hunter. It’s about keeping it fresh and learning from other companies as well as adding value from our brand-building knowledge.”

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