TM Lewin said it was “quietly optimistic” for next year, as it plans to double its international presence on the back of record results for the year to February.
The shirt retailer, which posted a 20% surge in sales from £83.5m in 2010 to £100.4m for the year to February 26, breaking the £100m barrier for the first time, said customers were seeking higher-quality products during tough economic conditions.
Chief executive Geoff Quinn said: “It’s still tight out there; nobody is jumping up and down for joy, but we’ve been here before. We are quietly optimistic about where we are going this [financial] year. We’ve had a good reaction [to the autumn 11 collection]. We’re benefiting from people thinking of longevity and wanting quality products. The recession is partly helping us.”
Despite EBITDA growing 5% during the year, from £14m in 2010 to £14.7m, womenswear sales were “slightly down” in the 26 weeks to August 27, 2011.
Quinn declined to provide details on how much sales had dropped. He described the womenswear sector as “good and challenging” over the year, but said there were plans in place to help combat the decline, including developing a range of shirts with new shades and fits.
He said: “Traditionally the focus has been on fitted shirts, so there will be more looser styles.”
TM Lewin plans to double its overseas presence next year, with 15 outlets – a mix of standalone, franchise stores and concessions – set to open in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Czech Republic.
The retailer will open its first standalone store in Australia, in Sydney, in September. It will begin a roll-out of 30 concessions into Australian department store chain Myer from February, which should be completed by 2015.
There are also plans to open a franchise store in the Czech Republic, which Quinn described as a “test for us to trial Europe”, as well as in Indonesia and Malaysia. It already has seven franchise stores across Singapore and Malaysia.
Quinn said TM Lewin would focus on multichannel in the next year, as it had seen a rise in click-and-collect customers. He said 17% of online orders were now collected in-store.