Blog: UK retailers look abroad for growth

Petah Marian | 28 May 2012

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics found that April UK clothing and footwear sales were down 5.2% on the prior year.

Attributing the declines to poor weather, the ONS found that the total value of retail sales rose by just 0.4% over April, making this the slowest rate of growth since January 2010. The slowdown was largely due to declines at textile, clothing and footwear stores, the ONS said.

As the UK market remains stagnant, UK retailers must look abroad for growth, and one retailer doing this with some success is online retailer Asos, which recorded a 103% increase in international sales over the year.

The company is tightening its focus on the 20-something consumer, a segment that CEO Nick Robertson told just-style is globalising faster than any other generation.

Another retailer focusing its efforts abroad is Marks and Spencer, which revealed on Tuesday that it would slow its space growth in the UK and redouble its efforts internationally, with plans to open 100 foreign outlets a year.

The announcement came as M&S recorded a decline in full-year profit and a mere 0.2% increase in clothing sales over the period.

The retailer said it booked a mixed performance in women's wear, but had successes in lingerie, children's wear and men's wear.

Across the Atlantic, PVH raised its full-year forecasts on the back of a 61% surge in first-quarter earnings. The brand attributed the growth to strong global demand for its Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands.

Meanwhile, Adidas' woes continue in India, with the company's Reebok subsidiary filing a criminal complaint against two former senior executives over irregularities in the business.

According to local press reports, former managing director Subhinder Singh Prem and COO Vishnu Bhagat have been accused of stealing products, setting up secret warehouses and fixing accounts, leading the company to lose INR8.7bn (US$155.3m).

In Bangladesh, a number of fashion firms, including H&M, Levi Strauss, Carrefour and Tesco have backed a three-year programme to clean up production in the Bangladeshi garment industry. The scheme will help local garment washing, dyeing and finishing units adopt cleaner and safer production methods, including technologies to reduce water consumption and effluents, and is designed to help the sector enhance its long-term competitiveness and sustainability.


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