Superdry readies for 18 November opening in Durham
Superdry – the SuperGroup-owned fashion chain of the moment – is gearing up to open its new store in Durham’s Silver Street at 9am this coming Friday (18 November), though the shop was still under wraps when I went past this morning.
By opening in the midst of the Durham Lumiere festival – which runs from 17-20 November, and attracts large crowds to the city – Superdry should be well placed for a successful launch.
Until recently, the unit at 30-31 Silver Street was occupied by Burton and Dorothy Perkins. However, in keeping with Sir Philip Green’s property consolidation strategy for Arcadia Group, both brand’s ranges now feature instead in the city’s nearby BHS store, the anchor tenant for the Prince Bishops shopping centre.
While Arcadia shrinks its estate, Superdry is rapidly expanding it – and since the first Superdry store opened in 2004, the chain’s growth has been spectacular. Durham will be the 57th standalone Superdry store in the UK – and only its third in the North East, after Newcastle and Metrocentre – alongside 21 shops under the Cult brand and more than 40 concessions in House of Fraser, Harrods and Selfridges department stores.
The Superdry estate has also grown rapidly overseas, and currently comprises more than 100 stores across Venezuela, the USA, Taiwan, Spain, South Korea, Panama, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Indonesia, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and Australia. The Superdry website has also become a major sales channel, buoyed by its free delivery offer within the UK, Europe and North America.
Not surprisingly, this expansion has fuelled rapid growth both in group sales – up 42% in the three months to 30 October, following the 66% increase recorded in the previous quarter – and in profit (£47.3m pre-tax profit in the year to 1 May 2011). However, an absence of like-for-like comparisons makes it difficult to discern how sales are holding up in established stores, and the extent of any cannibalisation by newly opened shops.
Commentators’ questioning of how long SuperGroup can sustain such growth – alongside recent distribution difficulties (now apparently resolved) and a sense that the Superdry brand may be becoming overexposed – makes it one of the most fascinating retailers to follow right now, and is reflected in the business’s fluctuating share price. In March 2010, SuperGroup successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange, with the company’s share price subsequently rocketing from its initial £5 to a peak of more than £18 in February this year. However, the share price has since fallen back to just over £6.
Nevertheless, for all those question marks, Superdry’s development of good-looking stores on the high street in the midst of an economic downturn is both impressive and welcome. Presumably due to its student-heavy population, Durham has done well to secure a standalone Superdry store ahead of the larger North East retail centres of Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Darlington, and the chances are that it will be a success. However, time will tell how much further Superdry can grow – in our region, the UK, and overseas – before it starts to see increasingly diminishing returns.