Strong sales and margins at classic womenswear chain CC helped to offset some of the profit decline at menswear chain Austin Reed for the year to January 31, 2009.
Operating profit at Austin Reed Group, which owns the two business, fell 37% to £3.2m for the year on flat sales of £110m. EBITDA fell 18% to £7.1m.
The performance of formal menswear at the Austin Reed chain was blamed for the decline as men stopped buying suits in the recession. Operating profits at the chain fell 92% on sales down 5.7% to £56.2m.
Chief executive Nick Hollingworth said: “We thought 18% down was acceptable in a difficult market. Austin Reed is 80% menswear, with 65% to 70% of that formalwear. Men are first into a recession and last out.”
In contrast, operating profit at CC rose 15% over the period, on sales up to £53.4m from £50.4m.
Hollingworth added that trade had improved from September and that Austin Reed finished the year “strongly”. He said: “Business has stabilised.” He added: “Over Christmas and January we have seen the first few green shoots of men coming back to shopping.”
Hollingworth added that last autumn’s debut menswear collection at Viyella, which Austin Reed bought out of administration 12 months ago, had exceeded expectations.