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Stocks plummet after tough 2007

Publicly-owned fashion retailers are facing a torrid 2008 on top of a shocking 2007, when 24 of the 32 companies monitored by Drapers' Sharewatch ended the year well below last January's share price.

Only eight of the fashion businesses listed in Drapers' Sharewatch table are trading above their stock price of a year ago, while several are nearing their 12-month low, prompted by falling consumer confidence, an uncertain housing market and the credit crunch.

The year's biggest loser was Sports Direct International, whose shares plummeted 72% on last March's 300p float price to a year low of 84.25p. A reluctance to disclose numbers, poor corporate governance and slowing sales frustrated the City and hammered the share price. 2008 is unlikely to be a good year for the sportswear group's founder Mike Ashley.

Also in the sportswear sector, Blacks Leisure finished the year down 61%. The business was downgraded in a note from analyst Kaupthing this week.

Debenhams took a big hit, prompted by its repeated profit warnings. Fears over the effect of aggressive discounting on its brand equity were not allayed, despite the department store's promises to cut back on the number of days on promotion.

The retailer finished the year with the appointment of former George at Asda global managing director Angela Spindler as managing director to aid its recovery next year, but stock was still down by 57% to 81.75p.

Menswear retailer Moss Bros was another big loser after a profit warning knocked its share price 40% lower than a year ago. But with Icelandic investor Baugur waiting in the wings with a potential bid at the 40p-a-share mark, Moss Bros could well follow in the footsteps of Austin Reed and Monsoon, both of which delisted this year.

Winners were few and far between, although online retailer Asos was the stellar performer, reporting soaring like-for-like sales. The share price is now up 77% to 210p.

New to the table this week is ethical etailer, which could be one to watch next year, with the rise of online shopping and the trend for 'consuming with a conscience' continuing to gather pace.

Meanwhile, John David Group was the surprise second highest climber and the only riser in the sportswear sector, up 14% to 360.75p. It managed to extricate itself from the price battle between rivals JJB Sports and Sports Direct in 2007. Next year will be interesting as JD gears up to integrate Bank, the young fashion chain it bought last week.

M&S's recovery may have pushed its share price to more than 730p at the start of the year, but suggestions of a slowdown, not least Stuart Rose’s warning of a tough 2008, mean its share price ended the year down to a more sober 545.5p.

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