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Phase Eight success fuels international ambitions

Mainstream womenswear retailer Phase Eight is understood to be expecting a rise in EBITDA of almost £3m this year following strong growth.

Sources indicated that Phase Eight had been performing well in its current financial year, which runs until the end of January, with EBITDA expected to exceed £23m, a 13% increase on last year’s figure. One source said it was “markedly ahead of its key peers”.

This will follow a year of growth in 2012, with the retailer posting an 11.7% rise in turnover to £121.1m for the 12 months to February 2, 2013. Operating profit also grew 8% to £17.1m.

Last week it was reported that the business has refinanced its debt, replacing previous lenders Lloyds Bank, Santander and Phase Eight parent company Towerbrook Capital Partners with a single facility led by Barclays.

It is understood the move has wiped off £3.5m worth of debt and reduced the interest on the remaining balance. The company declined to comment on this figure, but total debt was £15.5m on February 2, 2013.

An internal memo sent to staff said: “Your management are excited by the huge progress achieved in 2013 and … look forward to working closely together to grow and develop performance of Phase Eight during 2014.”

Independent analyst Nick Bubb said: “Despite its chequered history, Phase Eight is very profitable and cash-generative, plus it has a decent niche in the department store concession market.”

The retailer, which has 108 stores and 196 concessions in the UK as well as 62 stores and concessions internationally, has been focusing its expansion plans overseas. This year it plans to launch in Australia, Belgium, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey with new stores, as well as grow its store portfolio in the UK and its existing international markets.

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