Boden’s profits rise on back of global sales

Middle-class favourite is to open first high street store

Boden, the online and catalogue clothes retailer known as a favourite of middle class “yummy mummies”, increased sales and pretax profits last year, buoyed by global revenues.

The company, which describes itself as being positioned at the “premium end of mass market”, reported pretax profit rising 9.6 per cent to £26.2 million (€28.4 million)for the year to December 31st, 2016, as customer numbers rose and it increased its gross margin. Sales rose 9 per cent to £308 million.

The group, which is preparing to open its first high street store, is controlled by founder Johnnie Boden and counts the family of former prime minister David Cameron among its customers.

Foreign sales – almost two-fifths of revenues are from the US – helped it offset the effect of the falling pound on its costs and lessen the need to raise prices in the UK.


Jill Easterbrook, a former Tesco veteran who joined as chief executive earlier this year, said Boden had achieved "a good performance across the board". "There was progress in sales but also in costs and margins," she added.

She said that while the company made most of its sales online, the analogue elements of its business – a printed catalogue and physical stores – were still important. “Customers love the catalogue, they sit down and flick through it; it’s still something they get inspiration from,” Ms Easterbrook added.

Store in Chelsea

The retailer plans to open its first high street store in Chelsea, west London, in the autumn. “We know that of the customers that love us, there is a proportion that enjoy shopping in stores and we know that we have an opportunity there,” she said.

There was “definitely the opportunity for more” stores, but Ms Easterbrook said the company would be proceeding cautiously because it was “doing something that is quite different from what everyone else is doing”, with many retailers closing their stores as more consumers shop online. Boden already has an outlet store in Park Royal, west London.

The group is also entering partnerships with other high street retailers, including a wholesale deal with US department store Nordstrom and concessions in John Lewis in the UK.

While Boden said it had a “long list” of new markets or product categories it could enter, the medium-term goal was to expand in locations where it has a presence. “We’re looking at countries we’re already in and expanding access, and that’s through partnerships with others and our own stores,” Ms Easterbrook said.

She added that the company had given itself more flexibility in its supply chain to allow it to respond more quickly to changing trends. “At one point customers would have done a big order at the beginning of the season, but that’s not what they do any more. It’s more little and often, so you want to have things that will tempt them,” she said.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017