Warmer autumn weather casts shadow over retailer

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FASHION firm SuperGroup has become the latest retailer to curse the warm autumn weather, which is hitting demand for winter clothing.

Last week, Next also blamed the surprisingly warm weather for its decision to cut profit forecasts, which is prompting analysts to expect more promotions ahead of Christmas as rivals battle to shift stock.

The fine weather has hit demand for jumpers, coats, jackets and scarves.

SuperGroup’s chief executive Euan Sutherland said low demand and fierce sector promotions had led to a more cautious outlook for the second half.

In a statement, Supergroup, which is the firm behind the Superdry brand, said: “After a strong start to the quarter, September and October have both seen an exceptional period of warm weather across the UK and the rest of Europe which is expected to continue into November.

“This has resulted in a high degree of uncertainty around the future performance of the autumn/winter range, particularly outerwear ... a significant part of the Superdry product mix.”

The group, whose logo emblazoned jackets, hooded tops, check shirts and jogging bottoms are popular with young people, makes almost a quarter of turnover from men’s outerwear alone.

The firm said it expected full-year profit to be in the range of £60m to £65m, below market forecasts of £69m to £73m.

While some analysts expect to find another sea of “sale” signs in retail shop windows this Christmas, SuperGroup said it had no plans to change its pricing strategy in response to the dip in trade, because it preferred to protect its brand.

“When the fish aren’t biting then there’s no point in adding further discount to that,” said Mr Sutherland, who added that he remained “excited” about the group’s expansion prospects.

Chief operating officer Susanne Given said the firm’s strong margins meant it could hold any overstock until next year for its outlets.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Freddie George said he retained his “buy” rating on the firm, although he was less upbeat about its prospects this Christmas. He chopped his pre-tax forecast to £62m from £69m.

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