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Return to profit on cards for Brantano

Out-of-town family footwear retailer Brantano is on the verge of breaking into profit for the first time since 2005, after altering its sourcing strategy to buy direct from the Far East.

Managing director David Short said the implementation of better buying strategies and retail operations meant the business would
be back in the black by the end of December.

Some 40% of Brantano’s UK stores were loss making when Short joined in 2008. He has since sold those stores on or made changes to make them profitable again.

“We anticipate making a positive EBITDA this year and probably pre-tax profit too,” said Short, who described current trading as “steady”. He added:  “We’ve made a lot of progress in two years. There’s been a lot of margin improvement.”

Short said he planned to open 50 UK stores over the next five years to take its portfolio to 200 by 2015. The expansion will include openings in smaller towns and Brantano has hired property agent Cushman & Wakefield to seek locations.

Short said: “Now’s the time to acquire stores. We perform particularly well in smaller locations, where we tend to dominate.” Brantano will also step up its refurbishment programme next year. It has refitted 14 of its stores with better flooring, lighting, signposting and graphics at a cost of about £30,000 per unit. An
additional 25 shops will be given the same treatment in the first half of 2011.

Brantano is owned by Dutch firm Macintosh Retail Group. In the year to December 31, 2009, pre-tax losses narrowed from £8.8m to £4.6m while turnover declined 1.8% to £107.46m.

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