So far the end of year trading results are revealing a mixed picture of High Street retail winners and losers.
While Debenhams saw profits drop, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Next have all reported healthy overall profit growth at 6.9%, 7.3% and 7.7% respectively. Most significant in all three cases was the increase in online sales with Next recording a 21% increase, John Lewis 23% and House of Fraser a colossal 58%.
One of the most encouraging stories is the turnaround in the fortunes of the clothing store Bonmarche. Its 400 stores, then owned by Peacocks, went into administration in 2012 and were bought by private investors for c £10 million.
Restructuring involved closing “dozens” of unprofitable stores and renegotiating rents on others, classic turnaround basics.
One significant factor in this success story that has seen the business now valued at more than £100 million was the laser-like focus of new CEO Beth Butterwick identifying its niche customers and then catering specifically for them.
Bonmarche identified its market as the 40-plus woman, defined how this group preferred to shop and provided clothes they wanted to buy, with the help of designer David Emmanuel best known for designing Princess Diana’s wedding dress.
Another example of a terrific turnaround is Jaeger the fashion retailer that was bought by Better Capital from Harold Tilman in 2012.
Jaeger has reported a sales jump of 23% in like for like sales for the 13 weeks to 28 December 2013 when compared with 2012. These include a huge increase in online sales which also offered a click and collect service.
Such examples are proving that the High Street is undergoing a transformation.