The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Retailer looks to in-store experience

Fashion firm hopes to build on gains in tough times by adapting to consumers

Chief executive Graeme Popplewell says a makeover for Glassons stores helped boosted sales. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Chief executive Graeme Popplewell says a makeover for Glassons stores helped boosted sales. Photo / Sarah Ivey

With economic conditions set to remain sluggish at best, clothing retailer Hallenstein Glasson will focus on giving customers a superior in-store experience and making further market share gains in the year ahead, says its chief executive, Graeme Popplewell.

Despite a tough retail environment, the Auckland-based firm - which operates Hallensteins, Glassons and Storm stores - posted a solid full-year result yesterday.

Total sales rose 5 per cent to $205.5 million in the 12 months to August 1 compared with the previous year, while net profit lifted 14.8 per cent to $21 million.

Popplewell said all the firm's chains performed well and increased market share over the year.

The first seven weeks of the firm's current financial year had begun well, with sales rising 7 per cent.

But Popplewell said that even with interest rates at historic lows, consumers remained cautious and the internet was giving them the opportunity to shop on "a truly international stage".

"Sitting back and hoping things will get better isn't the right thing to do," he said.

"Our focus is to understand our customer better than our competitors and to deliver a superior product and in-store experience."

Mint Asset Management portfolio manager Shane Solly said the company had posted a good result, despite difficult trading conditions.

"It's a tough time to be a retailer but these guys are good at what they do," Solly said.

"The environment is stripping the good retailers from the bad."

Popplewell said a repositioning of Hallensteins menswear stores as a "more youthful and fashionable" brand was paying dividends and the company would begin a refurbishment programme of selected stores next month.

Sales at Hallensteins lifted 4.2 per cent on the previous year, while net profit increased 17.7 per cent.

Popplewell said a refurbishment programme of Glassons, including its central Auckland store in Queen St, had helped boost sales at the women's fashion chain.

Full-year sales at Glassons New Zealand increased 2.2 per cent, with net profit rising 5.4 per cent.

Popplewell said Glassons was performing well in Australia, despite trading conditions being "extremely challenging" there.

Glassons Australia's sales increased 9.7 per cent, while a loss in the 2011 financial year was turned into a modest gain in 2012, he said.

"The business in Australia is beginning to show positive returns and further stores will be added as sites become available in selected locations," Popplewell added.

He said the firm was projecting strong growth from its onlinestores.

"From a base of almost zero in 2011, revenue from sales on the web are now at a level where it represents a key store for each brand."

Hallenstein Glasson shares closed down 1c yesterday at $4.60.

- NZ Herald

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