Superdry says a shift towards digital and wholesale and away from dependence on stores is central to a strategy that today saw it post ecommerce turnover up by a quarter (25.8%) in its latest financial year – with almost a third (29.7%) of its retail sales taking place online.
Overall retail revenues lifted by 9.2% in the year to April 28, with growth from stores coming in 3.4% ahead. Group revenue rose by 16% to £872m from £752m last time. Top-line pre-tax profits of £97m were up by 11.5% from £87m last time but bottom line pre-tax profits were 23% down at £65.3m following write-downs on the value both of foreign exchange hedging and of its Berlin Kranzler store.
Chief executive Euan Sutherland said: "Superdry has had another strong year, enhancing our position as a global dgital brand with a multi-channel approach. We have made good progress in delivering our strategy and significantly strengthened our platform and capabilities, while delivering another year of double digit growth in sales and profitability.
"Our focus remains on executing our growth strategy and realising the potential we have identified across products, geographies and channels. In Superdry we have a brand that stands for quality, design, value for money and relentless innovation. Our eight routes to market mean we can continue to tailor by territory and channel, while our innovative approach to digital marketing means we can enhance our relevance to consumers around the world.”
He said the the board was confident in Superdry’s prospects despite a challenging consumer environment.
This is a third year of double digit sales growth and rises in underlying profits for Superdry. So how is the brand doing it, at a time when other retailers are closing stores? Here’s what it said about its multichannel strategy, as seen through the prism of InternetRetailing’s six performance dimensions.
Digital and social marketing campaigns help Superdry to build its influence across its markets. “These campaigns reinforce our ownership of core product categories by illustrating the breadth of choice suitable for every occasion and several brand advocacy by building influence across the communities in which we operate, allowing us to cost effectively introduce new consumers, while also strengthening relationships with existing ones.” Superdry says its ‘The Night is Young’ summer campaign was seen more than 7.1m times, and drove 2.1m visits to its websites, increasing new customer acquisitions and sales of featured proudcts. It also partners with influencers chosen to target particular customer groups and markets. Across all of its campaigns it reached more than 500m social media users, with 21m video views.
Superdry has invested significantly in user experience, with more than 700 improvements delivered by its in-house development team in the last year. That includes trials of technology including iBeacons.
“Our strategy,” it says, “is to provide customers with the choice of how and when they want to shop.”
The retailer now has 16 local language websites, with two sites launched during the last year. Germany is its biggest European market. More are to come, in growth markets including Ireland, Poland and Greece, while the retailer also plans to win incremental sales through new channels with third-party partners.
Superdry sells through 157 countries but says the brand is underrepresented around key markets, giving it a “signficant opportunity for growth”. It’s focusing in particular in China through a joint venture with the Trendy International Group, with whom it opened seven owned stores and 12 franchise openings in the last year, taking its total to 33 stores. It plans to double its presence in the coming year.
Superdry focuses on eight channels to market through its new Superdry 5.0 strategy. It is now prioritising the “capital light” channels of wholesale and ecommerce, which are both growing fast.
Wholesale partners, says Superdry, “represent our fastest growing and largest customers”, and it is launching a new B2B website for them to view and buy from the full range, in response to sales performance and customer demand.
But the retailer says its 246 owned stores in 12 countries continue to be a “core element of our business both from a brand presence and revenue perspective”. By giving technology including mobile point of sale and access to live inventory to staff it aims to enable “exceptional” customer service and to increase incremental sales. It will try more digital store formats, “leveraging consumer preferences and optimising the capital intensity required versus a traditional store layout”.
“Stores,” it says, “act as a physical showcase for customers to experience Superdry and facilitate ecommerce transactions by allowing customers to access the full range of product available via our iKiosk technology, as well as being able to return and exchange products. Our websites help to drive footfall into stores by building brand awareness in developing markets, and reinforcing existing brand awareness in our more mature territories.” It is planning to add more small-format stores of between 4,000 sq ft and 6,000 sq ft in major cities and prime shopping malls.
Mobile is the “fastest growing element within digital” and Superdry is developing a Progressive Web App in the current financial year in order to improve download speeds.
The retailer is creating a single consolidated inventory pool across retail and wholesale. “Integrating our store, ecommerce and wholesale stock will allow us to maximise availability through all of our sales channels, offer the wider retail range to our wholesale customers in-season and as a result improve seasonal sell-through,’ it said.
A new ecommerce order management system was implemented during the year while multichannel capabilities were extended to its European distribution centre. Both UK and EU distribution channels are serving all its channels, cutting the speed to market and from the autumn its US distribution centre will also fulfil online sales. This, said Superdry, means “we can offer market-leading delivery options in all our key markets”.
More than a third of sales (36.3%) currently come via womenswear, and this category, says Superdry is its “most significant opportunity”. The brand is working to better understand both those who buy and wear Superdry clothing in order to meet the needs of the market.
The retailer trialled iBeacons and, in five stores, RFID (radio frequency identification). It found that the RFID trial led to “significant benefits in inventory accuracy and labour efficiency in store” and it is to roll that out more widely during the current financial year.
Image courtesy of Superdry