The Very Group noted in its interim results for the 26 week period ended 30 December 2023 that higher interest costs compared to the prior year led to a loss before tax £2.0m compared to a profit before tax of £2.1m in the same prior period.

It noted that its group’s total revenue increase of 0.6% to £1.23bn ($1.56bn) was on the back of tough market conditions and its flagship brand Very UK accounted for 86% of total revenue.

Very UK experienced a 2.7% increase in revenue to £1.05bn which the group said was in line with expectations as the managed decline strategy for this brand continues.

The group’s retail sales decreased by 0.5% year-on-year which it believes was “robust and resilient” in the face of challenging market conditions.

Within its total retail sales, the group’s fashion and sports retail sales declined by 5.9% year-on-year and 5% at a Very UK level.

The group added this represents a slowing of the decline seen in previous quarters. However, it attributed this decline to the heavily promotional environment for fashion, noting that in contrast premium fashion performed well year-on-year, with growth of 18.4%.

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Half year results in brief

  • Gross profit was £410m compared to £401.8m in the same prior period.
  • The operating profit increased from last year’s £72.5m to £94.9m.
  • The loss for the period before tax was £2m compared to a profit of £2.1m in the same prior period.

The Very Group partners with investors to bolster growth

The Very Group has forged a long-term partnership with global investment firm Carlyle and international investment house IMI to bolster its growth strategy.

According to the agreement The Very Group will receive a £125m funding package by Carlyle Global Credit, of which around £85m will be immediately available for use by the company.

The group highlighted it will benefit from the long-term support of both the organisations, including their deep network of relationships, industry expertise and capabilities.

Carlyle and IMI will also each take a seat on The Very Group board as part of the agreement.

The group also revealed that Dirk Van den Berghe has resigned from his position as non-executive chair after serving for two years and completing his contract term. He will now focus on his other non-executive roles as well as new opportunities.

The Very Group is now searching for a new non-executive chair with Aidan Barclay who is a representative of the Barclay family in The Very Group assuming the role until an appointment has been made.

Barclay said: “Carlyle and IMI provide the support of two long-term, experienced institutional sponsors that understand our business extremely well. Their commitment underlines the confidence they have in the group, and their contribution to the board will be invaluable as we look to the future. I would like to thank Dirk Van den Berghe for his stewardship during his time as chair and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

In January, the Group saw its Christmas results weighed down by fashion and sport, which declined 3.9% with an analyst stating it had struggled to compete with its UK retail competitor Next, which saw 9.1% growth in its online sales over the same period.