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Online and offline combine to lift Burberry first-half sales by 17%

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Worldwide stores and an outperforming online channel combined to lift retail sales at Burberry by 17% in the first half of its financial year.

In a first-half trading statement, the upmarket fashion retailer said today that total revenue hit £1.03bn in the six months to September 30, up by 14% on the same time last year, while retail revenue reached £694m. Like-for-like sales rose by 13%, with double-digit growth in Asia Pacific and the Europe, Middle East, India and Africa area, and high single-digit sales in the Americas.

Chief executive Angela Ahrendts, who announced today she would leave for Apple in the middle of next year, said: “We are pleased with our first-half performance, particularly in retail with revenue up 17% driven by both online and offline.”

While footfall was soft offline, it grew online and conversion improved in both, the trading statement said. Mechanisms linking the store with online put in particularly strong performances. “Sales via iPads in store and ‘order online, collect in-store’ both performed strongly as consumer behaviour continued to evolve,” it continued.

Digital innovations during the period included the unveiling of Burberry’s first directly-owned fragrance, given a multichannel launch through channels including social media, retail and department stores, and the launch of Burberry Kisses, developed together with Google, which enabled customers to send a letter sealed with a digital kiss.

Burberry also pointed to its collaboration with Apple in September that saw its spring/summer 2014 runway show shot and filmed on the iPhone 5s. At the time, said Christopher Bailey, Burberry chief creative and now chief executive elect: “We’re inspired by what this could mean for the future as we continue to explore the merging of physical and digital experiences.”

Ahrendts said that while the environment was set to remain “uncertain” in the second half of the year, “our team is united in focusing on delivering a compelling brand message and exceptional product and service to our customers over the all-important festive periods, while continuing the momentum around beauty.”

The company also said new openings in the second half of the year were expected to contribute single-digit growth to retail revenue, while wholesale revenues, down 7% to £244m in the first half, excluding beauty, were expected to grow in the second half.

When he takes over from Ahrendts, Bailey will add the chief executive role to his existing job of chief creative, which he has held for six years and in which he has been responsible for technology and digital innovation as well as product and store design and creative marketing.

He said: “I feel privileged to be keeping my role as chief creative officer as I believe that creativity and innovation have been at the heart of our success in the last 10 years and will be even more so in the decade ahead.”

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