Mighty store group owner, Arcadia, today revealed that its bold BrandMAX strategy, announced in April, is reaping rewards. But the brave new initiative, designed to put the company back on track, will now mean that 55 more shops will be closed than previously estimated.

And this will mean that there will be a £20 million increase in annualised savings, taking the total figure to £180 million.

Arcadia, whose comprehensive portfolio includes Burton Menswear, Dorothy Perkins, Principles, Top Man and Top Shop, as well as brands such as Hawkshead and Racing Green, announced that total sales for the year were 27.5 per cent up.

Full-year results released today also show that profits are on the up, with second half retail profits of £18.1 million compared to £4.2 million in the first half.

But the company, whose fortunes are a clear indication of what is happening on the high street, also revealed that it has had to take a much tougher line to get the business back on track under the BrandMAX programme, designed to improve profitability by concentrating on top performing brands.

Of the 527 towns in which Arcadia brands trade, 332 were identified to require "BrandMAX" action. The company identified 55 additional sites to be closed in addition to the previous estimate.

Arcadia says it has closed a total of 204 stores during the period to the end of August. By February 2001, it plans to have disposed of a total of 300 stores. A further 70 stores will be disposed of by August next year and the balance of 85 stores by February 2002.

A total of 455 are to be closed - 55 more than the previous estimate of 400 in April when Arcadia announced the BrandMAX plan.

Arcadia says early results from the BrandMAX programme are "positive".

Chairman, Adam Broadbent, commented: "While the results for last year are poor, we are encouraged by the improvement in the second half and by initial indications from our BrandMAX programme, announced at the time of the interim results in April.

"The initiative, to concentrate our resources behind our best performing brands, is progressing in line with our expectations and we are achieving improved sales densities."

By Deborah Bowyer