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Ted Baker reports 82% rise in online sales; Debenhams appoints Google executive to its board

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Ted Baker today announced an 82% boost to online sales in the first half of its financial year. The rise took income from ecommerce to £6.2m, from £3.4m at the same time last year, and helped the clothing retailer to a double-digit rise in revenue.

Group revenues rose to £118.6m in the 28 weeks to August 11, up by 15.4% on the same time last year.

However pre-tax profits fell by 8.4% to £7.8m with costs rising as the company expanded into new overseas markets, with store openings in cities including London, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and New York. Before exceptional costs of £1.6bn relating to rents paid on new stores ahead of their opening, pre-tax profits were up by 10.4% at £9.4m.

The growth in its ecommerce business came, said Ted Baker, following improvements to its UK transactional site and with the launch of a mobile optimised site.

Womenswear sales, up by 24.5% to £66.1m, were stronger than menswear, up by 5.7% at £52.5m and accounted for 55.7% of total sales.

Ray Kelvin, founder and chief executive, said: “We have delivered good results in a challenging environment whilst making important investments for the long term development of the brand, including opening new stores in Tokyo and on Fifth Avenue, New York.”

He added: “As ever, our full year results will be dependent on trading in the important second half and we remain understandably cautious at this stage given the uncertainty in the global economy. However, we believe that we are well placed to deal with the challenges ahead.”

Meanwhile, department store chain Debenhams looked to online to boost its board and its multichannel strategy. The company appointed Peter Fitzgerald, country sales manager at Google in the UK and Eire, as a non-executive director.

“Peter Fitzgerald has a wealth of experience in helping retail businesses to realise their online ambitions with acknowledged industry-leaders Amazon and Google,” said Nigel Northridge, Debenhams chairman. “Growing our multichannel business is a crucial part of Debenhams’ strategy and, as one of the leading experts in his field, we look forward to Peter’s contribution as a member of the board.”

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