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Ruis pursues further growth at Jigsaw after full-price strategy delivers profit surge

Jigsaw is readying itself for further growth during 2014 on the back of a profits jump of more than 20% over the past year.

Sales at Jigsaw climbed 7% to £64.2m as net profits rose 21% to £1.9m in the year to September 28. Online sales increased 36% during the period and the net trading margin improved by 160 basis points.

Chief executive Peter Ruis told Drapers there was “real positive momentum”, with profits helped by sales growth and cost control. “We kept costs tight and grew margin,” he said. “We stayed at full price for long periods; this really helped drive margins and, as a result, profits.”

As part of his long-term growth plan Ruis said he would bring “personality” back to Jigsaw’s stores in a bid to grow sales to more than £100m in the next three to five years.

Its full-price strategy also paid off over the festive trading period and during this time sales rose against a tough “climate of aggressive discounting on the high street”. Like-for-like sales were up 17% for the five weeks to December 28 as web revenues also increased 39%.

Jigsaw did not launch its Sale in stores until December 26, despite “the most aggressive discounting in fashion” Ruis has ever known. He said it was particularly difficult being a concession brand, sat alongside rival labels that had gone on Sale, although drops of new product aided sales late into the month.

Jigsaw is now aiming for further profit growth. Ruis noted “the level of profit is not as high as we would want it to be”, although the target would “remain fluid” as it is dependent on what investments are made in structure, new shops and marketing.

As well as its 57 UK standalone stores Jigsaw continues to operate from f ve former Kew stores, currently run as outlet stores for Jigsaw stock. Sister fascia Kew was wound down in 2012.

Ruis plans to close all but one of the former Kew stores by September, saying that although not loss-making “they duplicate within towns we already trade [therefore] they are not viable over the long term”.

Jigsaw is also planning a new concept flagship store in April. Ruis declined to reveal the precise location of the central London shop, which will cover more than 6,000 sq ft.

Ruis said the store would be a “radical departure” and the first in which customers can access the full “Jigsaw  empire” under one roof.

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