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Review of the year 2016: winners and losers

As the year draws to a close, Drapers looks at some of the fashion businesses that have succeeded and struggled during 2016.



Boohoo has become one of fashion’s most successful etailers. This year it launched a menswear website and added kidswear to its increasingly impressive offer. Its pre-tax profits leapt 129% to £14.4m in the six months to 31 August, while sales increased by 40% on the previous year to £127.3m. In September, the business was valued at £1bn for the first time. Not long afterwards, Boohoo bought 66% of PrettyLittleThing, the young fashion etailer founded by Mahmud Kamani’s son, Umar. And this week, it confirmed that it has agreed to acquire certain intellectual property assets from US retailer Nasty Gal for $20m (£16.2m).


2016 was a landmark year for Missguided. The pure-play etailer opened its hotly-anticipated debut store in Westfield Stratford City in November, much to the excitement of its loyal customer base. Internationally, it launched wholesale partnerships with Asos and Zalando, as well as concessions in Schuh, El Corte Inglés in Spain and Boyner Group in Turkey. Its profits were “significantly enhanced” in the six months to 30 September after it invested in its marketing, technology, infrastructure and workforce. Sales were up 60%.

Ted Baker

Ted Baker’s group revenue increased 14.8% year on year in the 13 weeks to 12 November, the latest in a series of impressive trading updates. Its international expansion continued this year, and it has signed a partnership with Indian retailer Aditya Birla to expand there. Ted Baker also played with some interesting technologies this year, including Google voice search and shoppable videos.



BHS was by far the biggest retail loser – and loss – of 2016. The writing was on the wall in May, when the firm proposed a company voluntary agreement and put pressure on landlords to slash rents on some of its stores. In April, BHS collapsed into administration, resulting in the loss of 11,000 jobs and leaving a £571m pension deficit. BHS finally disappeared from the high street at the end of August.

Sports Direct

Sports Direct was rocked by controversy over working conditions at its warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, this year. MPs hauled its founder (and now CEO) Mike Ashley into a parliamentary hearing over the summer and grilled him over various accusations from warehouse workers. A subsequent scandal involving an apparent attempt to secretly film some of the MPs while on a visit to the warehouse added fuel to the flames. Meanwhile, on a financial front, the Brexit vote and falling in the value of sterling hit Sports Direct hard, and its underlying profit before tax fell 57% in the 26 weeks to 23 October.


It’s been a turbulent year for Bonmarché. Last December, the retailer lowered its full-year profit expectations for the year to the end of March 2016, blaming volatile autumn trading in 2015. At the same time, chief executive Beth Butterwick revealed she was leaving to take up the same role at Karen Millen. Bonmarché’s problems continued into the new financial year, and in September it issued a profit warning for the second quarter. In November, it posted a 63% fall in its profit before tax and exceptional items to £2m in the half year to 24 September. Total sales fell 4% to £93.1m, and like-for-like sales dropped 8.6%, as Bonmarché struggled to keep up with its rivals and fast-changing shopper behaviour.

US brands in the UK

Forever21, Banana Republic, American Apparel – it was not a good year for many US brands in the UK. In June, sources revealed that US casual fashion retailer Forever 21 was reviewing its entire UK store portfolio, as it continued to struggle in the competitive British market. In October, Banana Republic close all eight of its UK stores (seven in London and one in Bath). And to top it off, in November, American Apparel appointed administrators to its retail and wholesale business in the UK.

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