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Dr Martens reports ecommerce and wholesale growth, but retail sales hit by Covid-19 store closures

Shoppers are now more often buying Dr Martens direct from the brand. Image: Cineberg/

Dr Martens today reported 73% ecommerce growth after a year in which 30% of sales took place online. But its overall retail sales fell by 40% in a year in which many of its stores were temporarily closed in pandemic lockdowns. Nonetheless, it took the decision to open 18 new shops. 

The footwear brand said online growth reflected investment in improvements to its online customer experience and in digital marketing, as well as the online shift among its customers. “Over the medium term,” it said in today’s full-year results statement, “we expect our focus on this channel, along with the structural shift in consumer shopping behaviour to continue to increase the relative importance of ecommerce to our business.”

During pandemic lockdowns the business redeployed store staff online and reallocated inventory to ecommerce. Dr Martens says it was able to pick up business from closed stores online, thanks to a localised approach. It also used digital and social media channels to engage with customers, streaming more than 20 gigs over Instagram and growing its social followings to almost 5m on Facebook and 4m on Instagram. It developed an augmented reality (AR) lens to  connect with social media audiences, reaching 2.3m people with content focused on key icons and launched on TikTok. 

At the same time as investing online, the retail brand opened 18 new stores during the year, taking its total estate to 135. Its shops, it says, both showcase the brand and its products and support its ecommerce operation and remain important despite a pandemic-related fall in retail sales. It expects to open as many as 25 in its current financial year. 

The financials

The update came as Dr Martens, ranked Top350 in RXUK Top500 research, today reported revenue of £773m in the year to March 31, up by 15% on the previous year. Bottom-line pre-tax profits came in at £70.9m, after the £80.5m cost of its stockmarket flotation. 

Retail sales came in at £99.7m, 40% down on the previous year as stores were closed and restricted across its European, Japanese and US markets. Wholesale revenues came in at £437.9m, 18% up on the previous year. The growth, says Dr Martens, was driven by strong performances from third-party pureplay retailers and from strong spending in the US market. 

Kenny Wilson, chief executive of Dr Martens, says: “The pandemic presented challenges to our operations and ways of working, and our priority throughout was to keep our people and consumers safe. I am very proud of the resilience, dedication and agility of our teams across the globe. This hard work, together with the investments we continued to make in our brand, resulted in revenue up 15% and EBITDA up 22%.

“Our DOCS strategy is delivering strong results. We continue to prioritise selling directly to our consumers, and, with retail severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, we focused our efforts on a step-change in ecommerce, achieving revenue growth of 73%, representing 30% of total mix. The investments and improvements we made in our supply chain in recent years, along with our multi-country sourcing model and close supplier relationships allowed us to quickly react to a rapidly changing environment, ensuring minimal disruption and maintaining good availability throughout.

“Our product durability and timeless design are rooted in a sustainable, long-term approach, and our brand custodian philosophy continues to guide the decisions we take. This underpins the financial guidance we laid out at the time of the IPO which is unchanged. Whilst the global trading environment remains uncertain, the strength of our iconic global brand means we look to the future with confidence.”

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