Out-of-town family footwear retailer Brantano has made a return to profit for the first time since 2005.
Brantano, owned by Dutch retail conglomerate Macintosh Retail Group, said pre-tax profits were £920,000 for the year to December 31, 2010, compared with a pre-tax loss of £4.64m the year before. Turnover at the retailer - which stocks brands such as Skechers, Hush Puppies, Clarks and Rocket Dog as well as its own-brand footwear - dropped 2% from £107.4m in 2009 to £105.4m in 2010.
Brantano managing director David Short told Drapers the return to profit was largely due to the closure of eight poorly performing stores, coupled with the implementation of better buying strategies and general improvements in operational efficiency.
“We are very pleased with the results and it is particularly significant given the climate we are working in at the moment,” he said.
“While we lost the benefit of sales in the stores we closed, we gained the impact of not having to carry loss-making stores.”
Short added that Brantano, which has 144 stores, now sources 70% of its own-label product directly from southeast Asia compared with 10% three years ago, leading to greater cost savings.
However, Short said the online offer needed to improve: “Online has been the most disappointing part of our business.” As a result, Brantano will relaunch its transactional website in August. Short said: “We aim to double online sales within a year of relaunching the site.”
Brantano refitted 11 of its stores in the year to December 31, 2010, and a further 30 in the first half of this year.
According to Short, some 40% of the portfolio has been refitted and all stores are expected to have undergone a refit by 2013. Since the year end, it has opened two stores, in Boston in Lincolnshire and Poole, Dorset. One in Scarborough in North Yorkshire and another in Bradford will open before the start of the key back-to-school selling period at the end of summer.
Short added that trade this year since the results had been “tougher” due to a dip in footfall prompted by cautious consumer spending.