Arcadia is cash-rich and hungry for acquisitions, despite sales struggle

Lots of cash in hand, hungry again for acquisitions, but not so hot in the sales column (excluding a runaway online performance.) That’s the latest news from UK-based Arcadia Group.

Owner Sir Philip Green called the latest results for the year to end August, “a robust performance in challenging times”.

However, Green also noted: “Current trade sees total VAT-inclusive LFL sales down 4.4% for the first 12 weeks of the new financial year, with our internet sales being +21%. Our young fashion brands Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge are trading positively.”
Overall, total sales  for the year inched up 1.8% to £2.07bn but comp sales fell 0.7%.

The group, which also includes Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Evans and Burton, said underlying UK retail comps slipped 0.9% on-year, but online sales leapt 23.9%.

Operating profit before goodwill and exceptional items rose £251.6m, up from £238.4m last year. Headline cash generation lifted £328.1m, up from £316.7m last year.

Green said: “We remain a strongly cash generative business, enabling us to continue to invest in all of our brands.  We have invested £113m in the last financial year, bringing our total investment over the last five years to in excess of £550m.

“We have seen a small reduction in like-for-like sales together with a 1.8% margin loss, having decided to maintain our prices and not to pass on any increases to our customers, absorbing such increases at a cost to the group of £53m.  Costs have continued to be controlled tightly.”

He said trading conditions remain “extremely challenging… with style, quality and value at the top of our agenda and more important than ever”.

But the warmest October and November on record have made autumn trading much tougher.

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