UK apparel retailer Jack Wills has announced it is back to profitability thanks to a number of ongoing efficiency programmes and a reduction in promotional activity.

Group EBITDA was up 64% to GBP8.4m (US$10.9m) for the 12 months ended 29 January, with an operating profit of GBP0.7m having absorbed GBP1.7m of costs associated with its acquisition by Bluegem Capital Partners.

Gross margin grew to 60% compared to 58.3% the previous year, which it says was a result of "a deliberate strategy to reduce promotional activity and sell more volume at full price in line with our premium strategy". The firm pointed out that while the move improved margins, it restricted sales growth in the period.

Five stores were closed by the group during the year and two were re-sited.

Peter Williams, founder and CEO of Jack Wills, says: "Momentum has very much returned to the business and this is evident from the overall improvement in, and return to profitability. This momentum of profit improvement is continuing through the current financial year, helped by our efficiency programmes and our deliberate strategy to reduce promotional activity, which improved margin. 

"Despite the tough consumer environment and focus on reducing promotions, revenue is up 4% with our multichannel model giving customers ultimate flexibility on how and where they engage with the brand. We are strengthening and growing our presence in the UK and overseas and today ship to a record 130 countries worldwide. We are working on a number of exciting initiatives and will open an additional 10 stores this year. We are making really good progress financially, the product we make today is amongst the best it has ever been and we have a lot more exciting news to come."