Fat Face losing streak ends

Clothing brand Fat Face ends years of poor results with pre-tax profit of £500,000 on sales of £163m in year to 2 June

Clothing brand Fat Face has ended several years of poor results by booking a small profit after it successfully weaned shoppers off price cuts.

The Havant-based company made a pre-tax profit of £500,000 on sales of £163.6m in the year to 2 June. Its chief executive Anthony Thompson described it as a “resilient performance” against a backdrop of weak consumer confidence. The “mid-month blues” had got worse for Britons, he said, with the retailer seeing a spike in trade at the end of the month as consumers splashed out on new clothes after pay day. “Things have got tougher, much tougher.”

The former Marks & Spencer executive was brought in two years ago to lead a turnaround of the chain founded by two ski fanatics, Tim Slade and Jules Leaver, who started out selling après-ski sweatshirts in 1988. It was bought by Bridgepoint for £360m in 2007 but came unstuck during the recession forcing the private equity firm to inject fresh funds as part of a refinancing. “It’s not a strategic decision to be a discounter if you were previously a full price retailer,” said Thompson who said discounted products now accounted for 25% of sales compared with 50% when he took over in 2010.

A tight rein on costs helped the retailer reduce its substantial debt pile by around £10m to £150m, Thompson said. He conceded its debt remained high given market conditions but said the retailer was operating comfortably within its banking covenants.

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