Sales surge at Brown Thomas, new-look fashion floor planned

Retailer says double-digit increase in sales aided by increased consumer confidence

Brown Thomas: pre-tax profit doubled to €12.8 million due to an exceptional credit of €8 million relating to an accounting treatment for its pension scheme. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Brown Thomas: pre-tax profit doubled to €12.8 million due to an exceptional credit of €8 million relating to an accounting treatment for its pension scheme. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Retailer Brown Thomas expects to record a double-digit increase in sales this year, helped by increased consumer confidence as the Irish economy continues to recover. Brown Thomas is also planning to invest €15 million across the group next year, including €10.5 million on upgrading the second floor of its flagship Grafton Street department store, and additional spending on its online shopping website, which now represents about 3 per cent of sales.

“It’s still all to play for between now and Christmas and what happens in the first week of January, but I’m hopeful that we’ll be recording, across the group, a double-digit increase [in revenues],” Brown Thomas managing director Stephen Sealey said. “The drivers will be our Grafton Street store, with the investment we’ve made in the ground floor, online will play a part, because although it’s a small [revenue] number, it will be up 140 per cent on last year, and we’ve also seen good growth in the [BT2] shopping centre stores, particularly in Dundrum where we’ve introduced new beauty brands.”

Brown Thomas has hired 242 temporary staff in Grafton Street and 500 across its eight stores to meet demand for the Christmas period.

On the refurbishment of its second floor in Grafton Street, Mr Sealey said: “It will be a state-of-the-art contemporary womenswear floor and we’ll be also be adding a restaurant there. We’re moving lingerie up to the third floor. That whole project will run during the course of next year and will help to confirm the destination status of this store.”

Accounts just filed for Carlow Investment Company Ltd, which operates Brown Thomas, show that its turnover rose by 7 per cent to €156.2 million in the year to the end of January 2015.

Its pre-tax profit more than doubled to €12.8 million due to an exceptional credit of €8 million relating to an accounting treatment for its pension scheme. On a like-for-like basis, its pre-tax profit was €800,000 lower, due to investments in the business, a rise of €3 million in its payroll costs from hiring an additional 85 staff (half for its online unit), and the closure of a large proportion of its ground floor operation in Grafton Street for renovation.

Brown Thomas paid a dividend of €10 million last year to its parent company, the London-based Selfridges Group.

Commenting on Brown Thomas’s results, Paul Kelly, the Irish managing director of Selfridges Group, said: “The decision by Brown Thomas to maintain its significant store-investment programme, alongside expanding its digital platform, is delivering a great customer offering and is driving the growth of the business.”