Coast, Oasis and Warehouse see sales decrease in Ireland

Irish subsidiaries of high-street fashion brands all report difficult trading conditions

Three of the country's best-known high-street fashion retail brands – Coast, Oasis and Warehouse – continued to report challenging trading conditions last year, newly-filed accounts show.

Recently-filed accounts for the brands’ Irish subsidiaries show sales continued to decline in 2016, “against the background of a difficult retail environment”.

The retail chains were all recently put up for sale as part of an effort to recover money for creditors of the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing, which owned the brands through holding company Aurora Fashions.

Aurora, which also formerly owned the more upmarket brand Karen Millen, had 27 free-standing stores and 34 concessions across the Republic. Aurora was forced to seek the appointment of an examiner for the Irish arms of the brands in late 2014.


Coast sales decline

Coast Stores Ireland Limited reported total sales of €7.2 million for the 52-week period from March 1st, 2015, to February 27th, 2016, the latest accounts show. This marks a 4 per cent decline compared with the €7.5 million recorded a year earlier.

Gross profit margin was 60 per cent compared with 56 per cent in the prior year, resulting in gross profit of €4.3 million, compared with €4.2 million in fiscal 2015.

The company reported a €700,000 pretax profit, down from €1.1 million a year earlier. Operating profit was unchanged at €800,000 as distribution costs and administrative expenses fell €1.5 million year on year to €3.5 million.

Coast employed 115 people across its stores in Ireland, down from 136 in the previous year. Staff-related costs fell to €1.2 million from €1.6 million.

Oasis Fashions Ireland Limited saw sales for the same 52-week period fall 2 per cent to €19.1 million from €19.4 million.

Gross profit margin was down from 62 per cent to 57 per cent, resulting in gross profit of €10.9 million compared with €12.1 million a year earlier.

Increased promotion

The company attributed the decline in profit margin to increased promotional activity to remain competitive on the high street and retain customer loyalty.

Pretax profit fell from €1.2 million to €200,000 as distribution costs and admin expenses totalled €10.7 million.

Staff-related expenses for the company – which employed 236 people last year – were unchanged at €2.7 million.

Warehouse Fashion Ireland Limited saw sales decline by 3 per cent last year, to €8.5 million from €8.8 million. The chain had a gross profit margin of 56 per cent, leading to gross profit of €4.8 million compared with €5.3 million in the previous year.

The company employed 106 people last year and had staff costs of €1.5 million.

Administrators for Kaupthing announced plans to sell the brands in November, with a private-equity firm likely to be the buyer. A sale of Oasis, Warehouse and Coast is expected to realise less than £100 million (€115 million).

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist