Sales at Pentland Group, owner of supplier Pentland Brands, passed £1bn for the year to December 31. Pentland Brands chief executive Andy Rubin gives his views
Which of the brands owned by Pentland Brands contributed most to the year?
Lacoste [for which Pentland Brands owns the footwear licence] had a solid year in 2008. We consolidated its position and expanded into formal footwear which helped us open new accounts, for example with Russell & Bromley. Berghaus had a record year thanks to the innovative combination of functionality and fashion we were able to inject into the product as a result of the brand’s collaboration with menswear designer Jeff Griffin.
Boxfresh had a year of restructuring, which is now starting to bear fruit for us. Its footwear ranges are on fire and the menswear is also very good. The team had a good Bread & Butter show. Kickers performed really strongly in 2008, with sales exploding around the core Kick Hi boot.
Of course, overall 2008 was difficult and a number of our customers are no longer operating.
Has Pentland Brands developed a strategy to support its wholesale stockists through the downturn?
We try to help customers on trading terms. If we feel this can make a difference to a retailer we will certainly take a look at it. From time to time retailers have cash flow problems and we are willing to work with them on slower payments if that is the case.
How have the currency fluctuations affected business and pricing?
The weakness of sterling is going to impact going forward. For spring 10, we have tried to hold prices where possible and we decided to take the short-term pain for autumn 09. Sterling has recovered a little since earlier in the year though and generally where your brand and product is strong there is no resistance to price.
Also, although we buy in dollars we also receive income in our various markets in euros and dollars, so it’s swings and roundabouts.
When do you expect to see a recovery?
It depends on the sector. The branded young fashion sector is still quite conservative with orders and we have lost customers in that sector [retail casualties]. The sports and outdoor sectors are currently running up on last year though. However, it is still very important we talk positively and generate a feelgood factor in the trade.
Do you see different trends across the different global markets?
We trade in 176 countries. We are seeing strong growth in our Asian business but the UK, US, Germany, France, Spain and Italy are all still feeling the pain.
You bought a stake in streetwear brand Gio-Goi in December. What else is on the radar for Pentland Brands?
The market in its current state is throwing up lots of interesting opportunities.
We’ve seen what has happened to the likes of Canterbury [the casualwear brand’s European division went into administration last month] and we have always been on the lookout for opportunities.
Amount by which sales rose at the group, to £1.04bn, for the year to December 31
Operating profit, which was a rise of 1%
Cash in the bank at Pentland Group
The stake Pentland Group has in retail group JD Sports Fashion