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Richard Kirk on Peacocks' strong Xmas performance

Peacocks chief executive Richard Kirk talks to Drapers about how Peacocks has outperformed the market this Christmas.

Peacocks saw like-for-like sales rise 1% for the 14 weeks ended January 3, with total sales rising 8% over the period.

Peacocks has been one of the few retailers to post positive trading figures over the Christmas period. What do you attribute the success to?

The Peacocks business has developed and changed over the last three years, with better quality product and availability, [and this has started to pay off]. I think this autumn has been our best range ever. Also, shoppers are trading down. We’re currently up double digits this week on last year, and the last two to three weeks have been even stronger [than the Christmas trading period].

Have sales come mainly from Peacocks’ basics or fashion-led ranges?

Both, but our basics ranges have performed very well. It has been so cold that the weather has been in our favour. Knitwear has performed exceptionally well.

Will Peacocks be able to sustain this sort of growth for the rest of 2009?

2009 will be intensely competitive but there’s no reason why we can’t. I think the value sector as a whole will do well this year as shoppers continue to trade down.

Will you make cost cuts across the business in 2009?

Yes. I’m looking at every cost in the business and we’ll be making some cuts, but I’m currently working out where these will be.

Given the current currency issues, will you increase prices in autumn 09?

Yes, by about 10%, but not on every line.

How did Peacocks’ online business perform over the Christmas trading period?

The web did well, but it’s not big business for us. Being a value retailer, sometimes the fulfillment costs are almost the same as the product, but we’ll continue to grow it and add more product.

Will the £20 million injection by shareholders this year only be used for store expansion?

Yes. It will allow us to maintain our store opening strategy of opening about 25 stores per year in the UK. We’ll open more internationally too.

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