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Fat Face to reduce markdowns with product overhaul

Lifestyle retailer Fat Face has overhauled its product offering as part of chief executive Anthony Thompson’s turnaround strategy.

The overhaul came as the retailer revealed its revenue rose 4.3% to £135.4m in the year to May 29, driven by 24 store openings.

EBITDA fell from £25m to £19.4m as the 180-store retailer invested in its roll out and suffered from a poor product mix meaning it was forced to discount heavily.

Thompson, who was parachuted into the business in April from George at Asda, is leading a product transformation with more focus on attention to detail, a revamped colour palette, and better fit.

The new ranges, which began hitting stores in mid October, take the retailer back to its “core values”, he said.

Thompson said Fat Face had “scored a few own goals” before his arrival in April. “The biggest issue has been the product,” he said. “We lost our focus on the customer and it had an impact on the bottom line.”

The entire range - influenced by a survey of 3,500 customers - will take up to a year and a half to filter into stores.

He added: “We’re encouraged by the customer reaction. The Fat Face brand has a lot of resonance with customers but there’s still an awful lot of work to do.”

The retailer will also focus on store standards and “deliver a full price message” to move away from discounting.

Fat Face has suffered from a string of senior management exits in the past 12 months, most recently its finance director Shaun Wills, who left to become Habitat’s chief operating officer.

Ecommerce and communications director Dan Miles left in August while home shopping director Kristine Kirby exited in May.

However, Thompson said Fat Face now has a “great team” after a series of appointments including Topshop’s Becky Bateman, who joined as retail director.

Fat Face will open 12 new stores this year. Thompson is hopeful of a good Christmas. He said: “There’s definitely a move towards quality, which positions Fat Face very well.”

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