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Profits tumble at Jigsaw

Profits at Robinson Webster Holdings, the owner of womens-wear retailers Jigsaw, Kew and The Shop at Bluebird, crashed by almost 70% to £2.2 million last year.

The company said sales had fallen by £5m to £84.2m in the year ended September 29 2007. It blamed increasing rents, rising business rates, high costs attached to building new brands and competitive trading conditions for its profits dip.

At Jigsaw, which was operating from 46 stores at the year end, sales fell by 9.5% to £58.7m. Pre-tax profit shrank by 27% to £6.19m. The company said in a statement that the drop in sales was partially offset by a rise in gross margin to 64.2% from 62.2% the previous year.

Meanwhile, Jigsaw’s sister chain Kew, which sells lower- priced fashions, had another difficult year. Losses more than doubled to £2.65m and net sales fell 3.9% to £20.5m. Gross margin rose from 57.3% to 57.7%.

A statement in the accounts filed at Companies House this week said: “Kew’s strategic priority has been to develop its own handwriting and identity, distinct from Jigsaw. Unfortunately Kew’s progress is not yet reflected in its results.”

Meanwhile, the Shop at Bluebird, Robinson Webster Holdings’ upmarket lifestyle indie in London’s King’s Road, narrowed its losses in its second year of trading to £800,000 from £1.08m.

The statement added: “Sales have grown year-on-year since opening, as the shop has developed its niche position and loyal clientele. The company’s main objective is to improve profitability by focusing on sales growth and improved gross margin.”

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