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Sales slump but Radley says it’s now ‘on right track’

Premium accessories brand Radley has seen earnings plummet nearly £5m in the year to April 30, in what was a turbulent 12 months for the business.

EBITDA halved from £9.6m in the 2010/11 financial year to £4.8m in 2011/12, according to its accounts filed this week at Companies House.

Combined turnover fell to £67m, down from just over £70m for the previous 12 months.

The period covered in the accounts saw the departure of chairman Paul Mason and chief executive Sven Gaede, and the return of his predecessor Roger Best in January 2012, as well as founder Lowell Harder in March.

Best told Drapers in October that he had been brought back in to return Radley to its roots. “It’s fair to say we weren’t entirely happy with the direction the brand was going in under the new team,” he said.

At the same time, Harder said: “[Radley] was trying to be something it wasn’t.”

Since returning, the pair have “orchestrated the repositioning” of Radley towards the higher end of the premium spectrum, which has also had an impact on the 2011/12 results.

One of the most significant measures was withdrawing the brand from Debenhams, which reduced the number of doors the brand was sold through from 1,000 to around 400.

The business has also improved the quality of the product, put the focus back onto its core offer of bags and small leather goods, and introduced a more premium range into the collection.

In a statement accompanying the results, Best said: “We are now on the right track and there is good momentum within the business. In December our like-for-like retail sales were up 18%.”

Two weeks ago, Drapers revealed that Radley had hired a new chief executive, allowing Best to step back into his other role as chairman.

Xavier Simonet will join this spring - although a specific date has not been fixed - from Playtex and Wonderbra parent company DB Apparel.

Simonet has been charged with leading Radley through the “next growth phase”, which includes international expansion and further focus on the UK’s premium and luxury markets. The business also appointed a new design director, Sarah Edwards, towards the end of last year.

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