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SuperGroup nears China launch as like-for-like sales dip

SuperGroup could sign a deal with a local partner to fully enter China - which is likely to be for ecommerce and a bricks-and-mortar presence - by the end of this financial year, according to chief executive Julian Dunkerton.

The company has been attempting to move into China since June 2013, when it announced the launch of a trial website to test the market there. However, it has yet to secure a partner.

Dunkerton admitted talks with potential partners had been going on “for some time”, but chief financial officer Shaun Wills told Drapers: “There is a chance of doing it within this financial year [which ends April 2015].”

Last week, SuperGroup announced total sales grew 15.9% to £87m in the three months to July 26, but like-for-likes fell 3.7%. The company said its like-for-like performance was partly affected by shortages of its key spring 14 womenswear lines.

Dunkerton told Drapers the merchandising and buying had also caused problems. “In summer we did a slightly too boutiquey feel for womenswear,” he said, with the offer now needing to be refocused on the core Superdry customer. “Some of our stores are quite large spaces, so you can’t ask too much of the customer. It has to be an easy journey through the store.”

The company has now streamlined its womenswear offering, focusing on dresses, skirts and feminine blouses. For example, instead of having three different blouses, it now stocks one style in different colours. “It’s a more confident buy,” said Dunkerton.

In menswear, a range of rugby gear will launch imminently, with the first samples expected within the next week or so. SuperGroup has also broadened its jacket range with its new bestseller Windtrekker, which retails at £74.99. Skiwear will launch in selected stores this November, including 12 technical pieces such as salopettes and ski suits, and nine semi-technical pieces like jackets and gilets.

Dunkerton said: “We feel very good about the next 12 months of product development.”

SuperGroup began rolling out iPad-assisted buying in store this week, giving customers the option of ordering additional sizes online for next-day delivery. It follows a successful test of the service over the past few months. The group hopes to have this offer in 30 Superdry stores by Christmas.

The business has more than 135 standalone stores in the UK and Europe and future expansion will mainly be focused in mainland Europe. It plans to open 80,000 sq ft to 100,000 sq ft of space a year, with six stores due to open in Germany before Christmas.

Between 40 to 60 franchise stores will also be added a year for the next four to six years. Key locations it will target include Malaysia, South America and the Middle East. It already has more than 200 international franchise stores.

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