// Monsoon is set to open 22 more new stores in the current financial year after trading recovers post-pandemic
// The retailer currently has 154 UK stores split between Monsoon and sister brand Accessorize
Monsoon is set to open more stores next year after a recovery in profitability and a “surprising” return to high street shopping, Financial Times has reported.
The womens fashion retailer, founded by Peter Simon went into administration during the UK’s first Covid-19 lockdown although Simon bought it back by agreeing to write off an existing loan and injecting additional funds.
The business has 154 UK stores split between Monsoon and sister brand Accessorize currently, down from 230 at the time it went into administration, but it now plans to open another 22 in the current financial year.
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Chief executive Nick Stowe told the Financial Times that “retail is doing great at the moment,” adding that the strength of the return to stores after a big pivot to ecommerce during the pandemic had surprised the team a bit.
Annual accounts for holding company Adena Brands, due to be filed at Companies House shortly, show sales of £240 million in the year to August 27, with a pre-tax profit of £17.8 million and net cash of £22 million.
Figures for the previous period are not directly comparable because of the administration, but the retailer said store sales had doubled because of new openings and fewer lockdowns.
Stowe, who is keen on locations in well-heeled regional towns and cities told the FT, “we could probably get up to 200 stores in the UK if we wanted to,” and added that the retail landscape “has changed quite a lot” and the business rates changes next year could make quite a difference to the store portfolio.
He said they make opening stores “more attractive”.
In the recent Autumn Budget, chancellor Jeremy Hunt froze business rates in England and changed the rules so that reductions in rents feed through to business rates immediately rather than over three years.
The group, which also has over 200 stores in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, some of which are operated by franchise partners, is dominated by Accessorize and includes travel-size stores within airports.
Sales at these locations rose by 24% during the year and now account for about a fifth of the total.
Stowe admitted that sales growth had slowed since the start of the year and that the macroeconomic climate was challenging but said its impact was uneven.
He said “the cost of living crisis is very real for some people but it’s not the same crisis for everyone,” and said “we’d be fools not to think it’s scary…but we are not feeling it in the business right now.”
He noted that the sudden drop in temperature across the UK had pushed sales of coats and outerwear up.