Brown Thomas sees operating profits rise by 13 per cent to €6.1m
IRISH DEPARTMENT store group Brown Thomas increased its operating profit by 13 per cent last year to just under €6.1 million.
Latest accounts for Carlow Investment Company Ltd, show that its turnover fell by 0.9 per cent to €140.7 million in the 52 weeks to the end of January 28th, 2012.
When the sales from in-store concession operators is included, the turnover figure was flat at €206 million.
Interest income of €503,577 left the company with a pretax profit of €6.6 million.
The retailer paid corporation tax of €1.2 million.
Managing director Stephen Sealey said that the improved profit performance came from being strict about cost. “We had a big focus on cost control,” he said. “We bought better and our [sales] markdowns were less. We have gone ruthlessly after costs that don’t affect our customers.”
Brown Thomas operates stores in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick and three BT2 outlets.
In relation to current trading, Mr Sealey said its revenues were up year-to-date by a “mid single digit” percentage.
However, he declined to offer a forecast for the year as Christmas is such a large part of its overall trading.
“As a group, we are up on last year,” he said. “The Dublin area is performing strongly. The cooler start to autumn has helped us considerably.”
He said rumours that it was planning to close its Limerick store were not correct.
“It was a tough performer for us last year. However, we are certainly not going to close the store.
“In fact, we’ve invested €300,000 in it replacing flooring in the beauty hall, refreshing the beauty counters and upgrading our accessories.
“We are already seeing results from that. We own the freehold and it is profitable.”
Mr Sealey said it was also investing in its Galway outlet and its flagship store on Grafton Street, which this weekend launches its Christmas window display and opens its seasonal Marvel Room.
“We have products there from €5 all the way up to a €2 million diamond, which is something we are doing with our friends in Tiffany. It’s a bit of fun.”
In terms of the Dublin store, Mr Sealey said its new range of childrenswear has performed well. “We’ve doubled the size of it. It has done very well for us.”
Accessories have also performed well and it has recorded “good growth” in menswear.
The company has yet to launch a transactional website but has upgraded its online and mobile offerings and increased its presence in social media.
Brown Thomas is part of the Selfridges global retail group, which is owned by wealthy Canadian businessman Galen Weston and run by Irishman Paul Kelly.
Selfridges in the UK recently passed the £1 billion (£1.25 billion) mark in annual sales.
Mr Kelly said that while trading in the UK is “tough”, the retail landscape there is brighter than in Ireland.
He is hopeful of having a “good Christmas” for Brown Thomas.