Mulberry sees sales back to pre-pandemic levels as UK production line helps it shrug off supply crisis

Business

Luxury fashion brand Mulberry said it was well set for Christmas as demand returned to pre-pandemic levels and its UK production line helped it avoid supply chain worries.

Mulberry – which was forced to axe a quarter of its global workforce last year as lockdowns crushed trading – said sales in the six weeks to 25 September were 34% ahead of the same period in 2020 at £65.7m.

It said revenue had recovered strongly after UK stores reopened, despite being hurt by the absence of free-spending tourist visitors – a trend which has also dampened demand at larger rival Burberry.

Mulberry handbag Pic: Mulberry
Image:
Mulberry is well known for its UK handbags Pic: Mulberry

Mulberry, which is best known for its leather handbags, said strong growth in its Asian business had made up for the UK tourist shortfall.

Other fashion retailers at the higher-volume, lower-price end of the market – such as Primark and Next – have reported difficulties caused by global supply chain problems over recent months.

But Mulberry said: “The combination of our UK factories, careful planning and agile supply chains has enabled us to successfully navigate the well-publicised difficulties in global logistics, with no impact on fulfilment to our sales channels.”

Stocking up with raw materials at its Somerset factories was one action the company took to shield itself from delays.

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Chief executive Thierry Andretta said: “The bold decisions we have taken with regards to focussing on our UK production capabilities mean that we are well placed for the festive trading period and beyond.”

The group said its half-year profit climbed to £10.2m after a loss of £2.4m a year earlier, though the healthy bottom line was flattered by a one-off £5.7m gain from exiting a lease in Paris.

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Confidence back in the shops?

Mulberry said buoyant sales trends continued into October and November but cautioned that its outlook remained subject to a degree of uncertainty with any new wave of COVID-19 cases or countrywide lockdowns having a potential negative effect.

The company said that with “substantial” cash reserves now available, it planned to splurge more money on marketing “to continue building brand awareness worldwide”.

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