SuperGroup has hit back at its critics with the launch of its first short-order Superdry collection for stockists of its womenswear.
This is to help it keep up with changing fashion trends, although some 74% of UK stockists surveyed by Drapers said the brand was still a “hot” buy.
Speaking exclusively to Drapers in the wake of reporting slowing retail sales, SuperGroup chief executive Julian Dunkerton conceded: “To gain traction with womenswear you’ve got to be responsive.”
He added that the first quick-response Superdry womenswear collection would be available for stockists to preview within the next three to four weeks. It will be delivered within six weeks. The fast-fashion styles will also be dropped into its own retail stores.
Superdry, which has about 360 UK stockists and is thought to have a womenswear to menswear split of around 40/60, came under fire from analysts this week after its retail sales showed a slowdown in growth in the fourth quarter. Down to 39% (see box) from 92% in the third quarter, some have questioned whether the brand has had its moment in the sun and is waning in popularity having been left behind by new trends.
But a Drapers survey of indie stockists smashed theories that the brand was about to crash. Of the 23 indie stockists contacted by Drapers this week, 36% said their sales of the brand were up against spring 10; an extra 36% said performance was flat.
Danny Lee, manager of Bedford men’s young fashion indie Planet Clothing, said: “Everyone is waiting for it to die off but some big brands have been big for years and haven’t died off.”
A massive 42% said they had upped their spend with Superdry for autumn 11 versus autumn 10, picking out knitwear and outerwear as the backbone best-sellers of
next season’s collection, particularly windcheaters and parkas. Some 37% said they had kept their budgets with the brand flat.
Dunkerton said slowing retail sales had been partly due to fewer store openings than planned in the fourth quarter. Late store deliveries of spring stock also held back sales over the warm Easter period. He added that strong overseas franchise growth had helped keep wholesale sales motoring (see box).
Superdry is the latest big-name brand to move into short order. The likes of Firetrap and Fullcircle are also working regular quick-drop flash collections into delivery schedules as retailers opt to react more in season to cope with fluctuating consumer confidence.
Superdry did come in for some criticism from its indie stockists though, with several calling for products to move on more quickly. One warned: “The problem is, if it’s not broken then you don’t have to fix it but [the product] is much of
Dunkerton said gilets and a polar fleece jacket would be best-sellers for autumn but stressed indies were buying widely across the range. He added that Superdry was also in the process of recruiting a new designer. “There is a constant process of freshening, adding and moving forward,” he said. “You will see huge progress throughout the year.”
Meanwhile, stockists with a House of Fraser or company-owned Superdry store in their town said they had noticed a slowdown in sales and that over-distribution was becoming a problem.
Matt Potten, manager of young fashion indie Heroes in Banbury, Oxfordshire, said the brand was still hot and was selling well in store but added: “We haven’t had as much demand for it recently because there are so many stores around selling it as well. I think it will die out a bit now because no one wants to wear the same as their mates.”
Michael Down, manager of young fashion indie Cruze in Camberley, Surrey, added: “Unfortunately when they make it available in every town - House of Fraser concessions, own stores - it becomes a bit saturated. It’s not as good as it was this time last year but I’m not sure if that’s just the way the economy is. No brands are flying out there.”
Fourth-quarter performance for three months to May 1
Total sales +66%
Retail sales +39%
Wholesale sales +89%
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