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White Stuff profits and sales slump

White Stuff’s full year profits and sales fell following a failed “test and learn” product strategy at the retailer.

White Stuff’s total sales are down 6.2%, year on year, to £144.1m. Retail sales were hit the hardest, with a 10.9% fall for the financial year ending 28 April 2018. Online sales were up 3.5% year on year, and wholesale sales are 1.1% higher than the 2016/7 financial year.

EBITDA fell 58.3% year on year to £6m, compared to £14.4m in 2016/7.

A spokesperson for White Stuff said sales are down overall “mainly as a result of the challenges from last year’s test and learn product strategy which heavily constrained H1 [first half of the financial year] trading, as well as a tough and uncertain macro-economic environment, which has impacted consumer spending in this sector.

“We are confident that the business is in a strong position to leverage the significant growth opportunity that comes from the strength of our brand, product and people.”

There are promising signs, particularly in the growing proportion of online sales, which now account for 30.4% of total sales, up from 27.5% last year. That rise may be down to the new website platform, which was delivered in 2017/8, and has new functionalities that enable personalised customer communication.

International sales have also increased by 7.2% overall, particularly in Germany, where the firm has directed significant investment. Wholesale international sales also grew by 12.1%, mainly from France, Belgium, Germany and Canada.

The brand opened two new UK shops and one German concession in 2017/8, and closed three shops- one in the UK, and two in Denmark, and seven concessions - five in the UK and two in Italy. The company now has 130 stores and 47 concessions. 

The company secured a new £15m bank facility in March 2018, which is secured until August 2022.

The results show new CEO Jo Jenkins has her work cut out to turn the brand around.

Jenkins joined the firm in April 2018 after leaving Marks & Spencer, where she was director of clothing and beauty. When the move was announced, observers praised the product and retail experience she would bring to the firm. 

As well as Jenkins, other additions to the executive team include HR director Matthew Scott, who has joined from the Body Shop, and merchandise director Tracey Verghase, who previously worked at Marks & Spencer. A new apprenticeship scheme has also been launched.  


Readers' comments (1)

  • What is a test and learn product strategy?

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