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New buyers help boost Phase Eight sales

Buying and merchandising changes paid dividends at womenswear chain Phase Eight as sales and profits rose for the year to January 28.

According to results filed at Companies House, sales at the contemporary retailer climbed 16.7% to £108.4m, with pre-tax profit up 3.2% to £15.9m.

Finance director Ben Barnett told Drapers the business had put a lot of effort into growing its buying and merchandising teams during the year, which had led to improvements in ranges and sell-through rates. He declined to give further details on the appointments.

“Bringing new people into these teams has meant we’ve been able to develop relationships with a number of new suppliers,” he said.

“We’ve developed exclusive arrangements with suppliers in Italy and Europe that sets our product apart from everything else on the high street.”

In the full-year period, Phase Eight opened 11 stores and 36 concessions in the UK as well as its first international store in Sweden. In the UK it has opened a further two stores and nine concessions and a store in Switzerland in April, bringing its total number of outlets to 292.

The retailer will launch an international version of its website in the next fortnight, which will ship to 20 European countries.

“We are very excited about the growth potential from the international side of the business, but we also still see huge growth potential here in the UK,” said Barnett.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Christina Grzasko

    With endless stories of the recession dragging the retail sector down, the success of Phase Eight is a refreshing sign that it is possible for retailers to buck the trend and succeed - even in the ongoing downturn.

    So instead of sitting helplessly on excess stock and slashing margins on discounting, retailers can learn the lessons from companies like Phase Eight who have reaped the rewards of a strong focus on merchandising to improve their ranges and increase their sell-through rates.

    As ever, it’s about the customer, what retailers really know about them and how they translate that into products that match their precise needs. As companies like Phase Eight appreciate, a strong focus on merchandising can help them achieve this, while allowing them to concentrate on margin ratios and maximising profits.

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