Next sales down 4.4%

High street retailer Next said sales for the fourteen week period to 1 November 2008, down 4.4% were in line with guidance given at the time of its interim results in September. The combined total sales for Next Retail and Next Directory for the period were up 0.9%. Next Retail sales were up 0.3% on last year. Like for like sales in the 334 stores that were unaffected by new openings were down 4.4%. Tighter control of Spring Summer stock resulted in fewer markdown sales in August, so full price sales performance was marginally better than total sales.

In its interim trading statement Next said there is no change to its September guidance on full year gross margins, costs or operating margins for Retail and Directory. Cash flow remains as expected and, subject to the important run up to Christmas, year end net debt will be in the region of £670m. This includes the £17m cost of acquiring the Lipsy clothing business at the end of September as previously announced. The company is still budgeting for Autumn Winter 2008 Retail like for like sales to be in the range -4% to -7% and Directory sales to be in the range 0% to +2%

The outlook for consumer demand in 2009 is mixed. On the up-side, lower interest rates and falling fuel and food bills are likely to increase the amount available for discretionary spending at some point during the year. On the down-side, rising unemployment will reduce earnings and falling house prices may encourage people to save more. On balance the company expects negative like for likes to continue throughout next year, though not necessarily at any worse rate than the current year.

Next is due to issue a sales update for the period to 24 December 2008 on Tuesday 6 January 2009.

Image: Next campaign

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Esprit announce stellar growth

Esprit on Thursday announced final results for the year ended June 30th, recording 25.6% turnover growth while operating margins remained stable. “The global economy is undoubtedly facing a tough macro environment. It is during this time, however, that a strong company like Esprit demonstrates how such a storm can be weathered,” commented Mr. Heinz Krogner, Chairman and Group CEO. “Turnover growth was fueled by our strategic expansion plan. This year, we invested over HK$1.3 billion in capital expenditure and drove the Group’s total selling space to over 1,000,000m2, comprised of directly managed retail and controlled wholesale selling space. In addition, we have entered retail markets in Spain, Norway and Finland and have launched the new concept, de. corp,” said Mr. Thomas Grote, President of Esprit brand. “In the coming year, we will continue to seek growth opportunities and target to invest over HK$1 billion to further strengthen our global presence,” continued Mr. Grote. With robust net cash position of over HK$6.5 billion and to celebrate Esprit’s 40th anniversary, the Group proposed to share its success with shareholders through increasing dividend payout ratio to 80% of EPS, representing a 32.1% increase in total dividend for the year to HK$4.2 per share.

“As we embrace the coming year, which will be full of challenges and opportunities, we target to maintain our status among the industry’s leading global players and at the same time, maximize shareholders’ value,” concluded Mr. Krogner.

Image: Esprit AW08

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Penrose London launch

After selling Duchamp two years ago, Mitchell Jacobs, founder and former owner of the brand is to launch Penrose London. The new menswear label will be all about shirts, ties and accessories, but more grown up and sophisticated. Penrose London wants to move away from old formulas, market place fabrics and too much patterning. All designs will be exclusive to Penrose London and will be targeted at the higher end of the market.

Mitchell Jacobs will focus solely on the product as the Creative Director, and Michael Whitby-Grubb, formerly at Aquascutum, will be heading the Marketing Department. A Manager Director hasn’t been named as yet.

On the launch of Penrose London Whitby-Gubb commented: “With our combined backgrounds, contacts, reputations and experience we are a formidable force. We expect to hit the ground running.”

January 2009 will see the launch of Penrose London both in London and Florence.

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Cultural context on fashion

The cultural context on fashion has never been as prevalent as it is today. The impact of a global recession on not only the industry but also on consumers in general means fashion will have to adapt when the economy recovers. Anti-capitalist fashion may be a contraction in terms with the frivolity associated with an industry that has long promoted disposable fashion and thriving on ostentation. Both of which, put simply, are no longer cool.

David Wolfe, creative director for trend consultancy The Doneger Group, predicts bling has lost its appeal and consumers are looking at a cost-per-wear value. Clothing doesn’t have to be discounted to offer value, however high priced items as such a one-season it-bag no longer feels modern. A growing social awareness means consumers care where there product comes from, the quality of fabrics it consists of and most importantly how it is made.

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The overall mood in womenswear for next season is much more classic. Whilst there will always be an appreciation for dressing sexy, a new silhouette which moves the emphasis away from the body and obsession with youth will become more prevalent. All in all, consumers will want things to last longer and fashion movements to run deeper.

Oilily on sale

After being bought only a few weeks ago by former Proctor & Gamble executive Lea Ward and co-founder of investment firm H2Equity Age Hollander, childrenswear company Oilily is declared bankrupt by the Amsterdam Court. Ward bought a controlling stake from ABN AMRO Capital and H2Equity, which owned the company since 2003. The acquisition was realised with support of a different bank and without Hollander’s investments concern.

After closing down its headquarters and shops unexpectedly, the Dutch label opened its doors again last week. Especially after the new acquisition by Ward and Hollander, the closure came out of the blue. Ward and Hollander requested surseance and commented they want to look for a long-term solution to safe the brand’s future. Interesting to note, initially the couple said Oilily isn’t a company for institutionalised investors, and is in need of a more personal approach.

Several investors have shown interest in the 80-store counting company. In both fiscal years 2006 and 2007, Oilily made a loss of 2,3 million Euro. The company has 625 employees of which 175 are based in the Netherlands. According to Dutch national newspaper ‘De Telegraaf’, employees haven’t received a salary since February 2009.

Curator of Oilily, Marc Molhuysen is looking to sell the company by 30th April 2009, which is a national holiday in Holland in honour of Queen’s birthday.

Image: Oilily

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Tracey Neuls Shop & Shop

Shoe designer Tracey Neuls is currently exhibiting her work with a Shop and Show gallery in South Kensington, coinciding with London Fashion Week and ending March 1st. The Canadian-born designer over the last decade has established herself as a vital force in contemporary design and built a loyal customer base who keep coming back to her innovative yet idiosyncratic styles. Easily London’s best-kept secret, her boutique is situated in a little Marylebone off-shoot side street, where Neuls indulges us seasons after season with her hand-made, mould-breaking collections.

With a following including Kiera Knightley and Comme des Garcons’s Rei Kawakubo, the craftsmanship and attention to detail in each of her designs speaks for itself. The traditional working method Neuls employs are executed by Italian and Portuguese artisans who ensure comfort, ergonomics and durability. Neuls describes each shoe, each season as having its own flavour and story: “My shoes are whole objects, not half stories and that’s how they should be experienced.”

Displayed together for the first time, the entire spectrum of Neuls shoes – past, present and future – are shown not in sequence but in constellation. Displayed in salvaged library drawers, along with lost and found paraphernalia that Tracey collections and draws upon, this is a keyhole view of her creative processes. You can unpick themes, repetitions and variations in the collection of shes, yet each succeeds independently – proof of the timelessness of her work.

The Tracey Neuls exhibition runs until March 1st at 1-5 Exhibition Road, South Kensington.

Image: Tracey Neuls pop up shop

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Heart and Design competition

For charity event Heart and Design, the world of style is teaming up with the initiative that combines the design and fashion communities in aid of a humanistic cause to help overcome heart and lung disease. Currently Heart and Design is searching for the new faces in fashion and product design. For their competition they are offering 15 young designers to exhibit alongside established designers and to be sold in a silent auction at Christie’s. 50 Percent of the sale will be donated to the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust, the other half will be for the young designer. Submission deadline for entries will be July 21st and the winners will be announced on August 7th.

All profits of Heart and Design will be donated to Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital NHS Trust. Elle Decoration is the initiative’s media partner.

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FaCshion much more than a Trade Buyer and Consumer Show

FaCshion is the very first two-day exhibition that targets both trade buyer and fashionista in London. The event kicks off London Fashion Week on Saturday 13 September (13:30 – 18:00) and Sunday 14 September 2008 (12:00 – 18:00) at the Old Truman Brewery. FaCshion will present a range of 50 rising talents from the capital, designers specializing in a variation of sectors from couture to customized fashion, knitwear, lingerie, footwear and accessories.

The key calendar event will also host four catwalk shows during the event as well as a champagne brunch for press and buyers. Along side a variety of exciting labels, there will be plenty of opportunity to meet the experts from the fields of Styling, Hairdressing and Cosmetics as they offer their expert knowledge to create the perfect day of pampering, learning and fun.

New FaCshion partner Dermalogica, will be supplying professional skin therapists to prime and prep the skin of models before make up, but will also be setting up a skin bar offering free face mapping; analyzing every aspect of clients skin and reaching their specific needs using a range of specialist skin techniques.

Paris Fashion Week: Nina Ricci SS10

Peter Copping’s first show for Nina Ricci received raving reviews. According to WWD, Copping delivered a buoyant premiere, by far the best collection of an assistant-turned-lead-designer in recent memory.

This show, Copping insisted, was about the house’s “signature codes” — bows, lingerie, lace. Copping debuted a take on overt femininity that commingled dreamlike romanticism with a sportswear comfort level. Working in a divine palette of barely there pastels, he showed pleasantly eccentric layerings — lamé over lace over chiffon over featherweight cashmere; cotton jersey over washed silk over tulle — that boasted more personality than much of spring’s omnipresent flou. Nor was it all about wafting silks as he worked in lovely leathers inset with lace.

Copping previously spent 12 years at Louis Vuitton, so a shared sensibility with Marc Jacobs is inevitable, said WWD. Another comparison is perhaps more crucial: that to his Ricci predecessor, Olivier Theyskens, whose gorgeous, very specific dazzlers went bust at retail. Much of Copping’s lineup was as intricate as it was girlish, raising the affordability issue. The balance of whimsy and good sense might prove just the prescription for reviving Nina Ricci from its recent ailments.

Source: WWD

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High fashion at the supermaket?

I’ll have a pint of milk and a racer back cashmere vest please. If you thought buying high fashion at your local corner shop would never happen, you may be in for a surprise. Tesco is set to launch F&F Couture and will be the first supermarket to foray into high fashion. The chain aims to sell design-led product, bespoke fabrics and clothes with intricate detailing under the same roof that sells you everyday groceries.

Buying Director of Tesco Clothing Jan Marchant commented: “F&F Couture signifies a new era for supermarket fashion. It’s a high fashion-led range which will enable us to meet the increased desire for affordable yet high quality clothing, and we’re so confident that the range will be a success that work has already begun on the Autumn/Winter range.”

The full F&F Couture range will launch exclusively online at tesco.com/clothing on the 29th March 2010.