SuperGroup Continues Its Turnaround

LONDON -- SuperGroup (LSE: SGP.L  ) has certainly had an eventful time since it joined the market in the Spring of 2010. Initially lauded as "the next hot growth stock," it soon fell to earth after numerous operational issues surfaced.

However, the last few months have seen something of a turnaround. Management has been reshuffled, and the shares have more than doubled from a low of about 250 pence and are now back above their flotation price.

This morning, SuperGroup reported a 10% increase in its first-quarter sales to 60 million pounds. Two-thirds of sales came from its retail division, where like-for-like sales grew by 1.7%. SuperGroup seemed pretty pleased with this result, saying that "revenues were resilient against a backdrop of unseasonal weather conditions and aggressive promotional activity on the high street."

The company added that its broad mix of products -- citing jackets, vests, and sweatshirts in particular -- helped it grow sales despite the wet summer.

Two new stores were added, taking the U.K. total to 81. In total, 22,000 square feet of floor space was added to the 431,000 square feet operated at the last annum's year end. SuperGroup plans to add 70,000 to 90,000 square feet over the course of the year.

The news was less good from SuperGroup's wholesale division, where sales were down 6%. However, the company put this down to timing differences relating to the dispatch of stock to its partners, pointing to a 7% uplift in its order book as more indicative of its performance. SuperGroup added that it would be switching to reporting on its wholesale order book in future updates.

On the franchise front, a five-year deal has been signed covering the Middle East and North Africa, and the number of franchised stores has increased by 13 to 102.

Julian Dunkerton, SuperGroup's CEO, commented:

The Retail division has produced a sound performance during the quarter against challenging comparatives and reflects the impact of improved retail practices. While Wholesale revenues appear more challenging in the quarter, we are encouraged by the level of the order book for the full Autumn/Winter season. Trading conditions remain volatile and unpredictable, but SuperGroup has produced a pleasing performance and while we recognise that it is early in the year we are on-course to meet our financial objectives.

SuperGroup shares rose by 5% to 557 pence this morning. This values the company at about 450 million pounds, and it trades at 12 times estimated profits.

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