Footfall was strong as expected in the seven days from 30 May up to 5 June in the UK as many Britons celebrated the Queen's platinum jubilee. The country also hosted a large number of visitors from abroad for the first time since before the pandemic.
The latest figures for retail footfall from Ipsos show that UK-wide visitor traffic was down only 5.9% compared to 2019 in the non-food sector. That's the narrowest deficit that has been seen since the beginning of the pandemic saw consumers less willing to visit physical stores even before the first lockdown was imposed in late March 2020.
Ipsos also said that towns outperformed cities by 15.3% points and the best-performing region was Northern England where store visits were down by only 2.2%.
As mentioned, across the country footfall was down only 5.9% against three years ago and compared to the previous week it was up 9.8%. Cities were down 14.6% against 2019 but up 9.6% on the week. And towns were actually up — albeit by only 0.7% — against the pre-pandemic period and rose 10.9% compared to the previous week.
Of course, this was an unusual week given that it included the half-term school holiday and two days at the end of the week that were public holidays, although many businesses (and especially retailers) continued to operate.
During the week, visits to high streets declined 8.3% compared to 2019 but rose 6.7% against the previous week. And shopping centres fell 12.3% against 2019 and rose 7.4% compared to the week before.
Retail parks were the clear winners across the period and were up a buoyant 6% against the same pre-pandemic week and rose as much as 15.7% against the previous seven days.
A report from Opinium and Vouchercodes had predicted that the four-day Jubilee weekend would deliver a boost of more than £6 billion to retail and hospitality businesses. And while the footfall figures hint that the optimism wasn't misplaced, we'll see from retail reports in the next few days and weeks whether the heavy spend actually happened.
British cybersecurity company CybSafe has raised $28m (£22.4m) for its platform that uses behavioural science to provide tailored security awareness training for employees.
The London-headquartered firm’s technology is used by financial powerhouses such as Barclays Bank, Credit Suisse and HSBC.
The company will use the capital injection to hire more behavioural scientists, data scientists and software engineers as it expands into new markets, including the US.
“For too long, cybersecurity training has forgotten people, lacked any scientific basis, and provided no data to evidence its effectiveness,” said Oz Alashe MBE and the CEO and founder of CybSafe. “We are here to revolutionise this by helping businesses reduce risk by positively influencing behaviours in a way that can be measured.”
Alashe is also a former UK special forces lieutenant colonel and was the first Black officer to serve in the parachute regiment. CybSafe’s Series B round bucks the trend of just 0.24% of venture capital going to UK-based Black founders between 2009 and 2019.
Founded in 2017, CybSafe’s cloud-based platform integrates with existing software solutions, such as Okta and Microsoft 365.
Using machine learning, CybSafe gathers and crunches data on an employee’s cyber habits at work to create a personalised dashboard with advice, risk analysis and social engineering simulations.
CybSafe’s Series B round was led by Evolution Equity Partners, with participation from Emerald Development Managers and previous backers IQ Capital and Hannover Digital Investments (HDI) GmbH.
“CybSafe’s disruptive approach tackles a complex problem with a simple solution,” said Karthik Subramanian, partner at Evolution Equity Partners. “They design their products with the user in mind, ensuring they are tackling the cause rather than simply treating the symptoms of cyber risk.”
It brings CybSafe’s total funding to $40m (£32m), following its Series A round in January 2021 in which it raised £5.6m.
CybSafe is used by more than 350 organisations across 15 countries. It recently hired Munyaradzi Hoto as chief marketing officer as part of its expansion plans.
The cybersecurity company’s competitors include KnowBe4 and Wombat Security.
How is Superdry’s goal to become the most sustainable listed global fashion brand on the planet coming along? Making “huge progress”, according to the UK-based retailer.
That’s based on its latest eco campaign, which sees Superdry team up “with female forces for good, to shine a light on all the amazing initiatives happening behind the scenes to truly deliver style in a more sustainable way”.
It’s the brand’s first female-led sustainability campaign, with five “strong ambassadors at the helm”, who will “champion and ignite conversations surrounding our three core sustainable initiatives: Organic Cotton, Net Zero & Circularity”.
Superdry said it will focus its efforts on creating conversation among an under-25- female audience, “on our mission to be the number one sustainable style destination”.
The cast includes Top Boy stars Jasmine Jobson and Saffron Hocking, German/American actor Emma Schweiger and digital creator Zoé Tondut. They will feature alongside the brand’s current face of sustainability, Filipino-British singer-songwriter, Beabadoobee.
Jobson and Hocking are advocates against domestic violence and for children in care; Schweiger is known for living an environmentally conscious life and ensures shopping sustainably plays an important part in that; and Tondut also promotes a more sustainable lifestyle on social media to her 1.4 million followers, “further supporting our sustainability messaging of shopping responsibly”.
The women “will help to educate their audiences on how to shop for the season responsibly, allowing them to look good while doing good and without having to compromise on style”, Superdry said.
To follow the retailer’s main Sustainability Campaign, there will be a subsequent chapter with its existing global brand ambassador, footballer Neymar Jr, on the topic of organic cotton.
WHP Global announced on Tuesday it has entered into an agreement with Xcel Brands, which will see the brand management firm acquire a 70% stake in fashion brand Isaac Mizrahi from the media and consumer products firm.
The transaction, valued at $68 million, includes $46.2 million in cash proceeds to Xcel, which will retain a 30% minority interest in the Isaac Mizrahi brand - Isaac Mizrahi
The transaction, valued at $68 million, includes $46.2 million in cash proceeds to Xcel, which will retain a 30% minority interest in the Isaac Mizrahi brand. Under the terms of a services agreement with WHP Global, Xcel will continue to manage the Isaac Mizrahi's QVC (a U.S. television network and shopping channel owned by Qurate Retail Group) business with WHP Global and has entered into a new license agreement to design and distribute Isaac Mizrahi apparel in the U.S. and Canada.
Isaac Mizrahi, the eponymous women's fashion label founded in 1987 by American designer Isaac Mizrahi, has garnered a strong following among several celebrities including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Audrey Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Rihanna, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, Selma Blair, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Carla Bruni. Since its inception, the brand has expanded into sportswear, footwear, handbags, watches, eyewear, tech accessories, home and other merchandise, which has seen it win four CFDA awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and generated more than $1 billion in retail sales.
Today, it is sold in Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay; interactive television, including QVC and The Shopping Channel; national specialty retailers; and internationally in Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan.
On the investment from WHP Global, Isaac Mizrahi, who will continue to serve as chief design officer of his namesake brand, said, “I’m very excited to harness the power of my brand. I couldn’t ask for better partners.”
Xcel Brands CEO and chairman Robert D’Loren said the Isaac Mizrahi brand has grown for more than a decade under its leadership, adding the new arrangement with WHP looks to take the label's growth global.
“The Isaac Mizrahi business has grown for 12 years straight under Xcel’s stewardship and we’re pleased to now partner with WHP to continue the brand’s global momentum,” said D'Loren.
“Selling a majority interest in the Isaac Mizrahi brand is a transformative moment in Xcel’s history and represents the first time we have monetized one of our brands since Xcel was founded in 2011. Xcel is now debt-free, with over $17 million in cash and $22 million of working capital on our balance sheet, which will help fuel a number of our upcoming strategic initiatives as we concentrate our resources on growing our brands, new brand launches and investing in livestreaming technology platforms and partnerships.”
With the addition of Isaac Mizrahi, WHP Global now owns and manages over $4.2 billion in retail sales across its portfolio of brands, making it one of the largest and fastest-growing brand management firms in the world.
“We are excited to partner with Isaac and Xcel as we work together to architect and orchestrate the next phase of growth for the Isaac Mizrahi fashion house," said Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive officer at WHP Global.
"We see meaningful opportunities to expand the brand by leveraging WHP Global’s platform and the reach of our fashion vertical, which now includes Anne Klein, Joseph Abboud, Joe’s Jeans, William Rast and Isaac Mizrahi.”
While it weighed in at $11 billion (€10.27 billion) in 2017, the Indian beauty market is expected to reach $21 billion by 2025. This strong and continuous growth is driven by its 1.4 billion inhabitants and the explosion of the middle class, which has attracted the covetousness of global players in the cosmetics sector. It is against this backdrop that Sugar Cosmetics has closed a $50 million (€46.69 million) Series D funding.
This financing round was led by the Asian branch of L Catterton, the French-American investment fund co-founded by LVMH together with long-time partners A91 Partners, Elevation Capital and India Quotient.
This financial transaction, which comes a year after a $21 million fundraising in which the brand was valued at $100 million, will allow Sugar Cosmetics to continue to expand in the dynamic Indian beauty market, mainly due to a growing interest in skin care products, the rise in online shopping and the increase in consumer spending in the country's secondary cities.
Founded in 2012 by husband and wife Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee, the Sugar Cosmetics brand offers skin care and makeup products, and is available online and in 40,000 points-of-sale across India.
There was yet another Indian cosmetics company that made headlines in November 2021. Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Falguni Nayar, Nykaa, which specializes in selling beauty products online, was listed on the Mumbai Stock Exchange. This listing enabled the brand to raise around €64 million.
In a surprise move, Frasers Group announced on Wednesday that it has acquired Missguided, the online fast-fashion business that went under earlier this week.
Or, more accurately, it has “acquired certain intellectual property of the online women's fashion retailer, Missguided Limited (in administration), Mennace Limited (in administration) and Missguided (IP) Limited for a cash consideration of £20 million”.
Mennace is the womenswear specialist’s menswear label.
The move was surprising given that Frasers has tended to focus more of its investment higher up the price scale in recent periods. However, it had previously bought mass- and mid-market brands and had lost out on other fast-fashion labels that had become available due to the pandemic.
Following completion, the business will be operated by the administrator under a transitional agreement for around eight weeks. It’s then “the intention that Missguided will operate as a standalone business within the [Frasers] group”.
Frasers CEO Michael Murray said the company is “delighted to secure a long-term future for Missguided, which will benefit from the strength and scale of FG's platform and our operational excellence. Missguided's digital-first approach to the latest trends in women's fashion will bring additional expertise to the wider group”.
It’s an interesting outcome for Missguided and — while Murray specifically referenced its digital-first approach — suggests that it might even have a future in more physical stores.
Frasers’ House of Fraser stores, for instance, have lost some of their fast-fashion concessions in recent years due to ownership changes of various brands, so Missguided’s addition might be an opportunity there.
Not that Frasers has said anything more than its basic stock exchange statement so far.
Boohoo Group had been seen as the most likely buyer of the brand, although it’s unclear whether it was outbid or whether it withdrew. Buying Missguided might have presented it with issues of differentiating the label given its ownership of a variety of youth-focused fast-fashion brands already.
There’s no news yet on whether Missguided operating as a standalone will also mean it retaining its Manchester HQ and operating with any of its current team. Some job cuts had already been made by the administrators this week.
It’s unlikely to be good news for the firm’s suppliers who were owned millions and whose winding up petition precipitated the collapse of the business, nor for backer Alteri that bought a stake for more than £50 million last autumn.
A few days ago, the L’Oréal group unveiled the ‘Bold Female Founders’ programme, an initiative designed to provide financial backing to women-led start-ups.
The project, developed within the cosmetics giant’s Bold (Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development) venture capital fund, is endowed with €25 million in investment capital and, as L’Oréal indicated, it will focus on opportunities in the global beauty ecosystem in the broad sense: from consumer brands to beauty tech, biotech and green sciences.
“By addressing the inequalities that passionate women founders face in their entrepreneurial journey, we bring our sense of purpose to life: create beauty that moves the world,” said Nicolas Hieronimus, CEO of the L'Oréal group.
According to Gouzelle Ishmatova, Bold’s chief strategy officer, 30% of start-ups currently backed by Bold are headed by women: “a more inclusive venture capital industry means more opportunities for under-represented female entrepreneurs. As a matter of fact, start-ups led by women attract less funding, yet they consistently outperform,” she said.
Economist Anne Boring, in her work on the motivations of women entrepreneurs, and the obstacles they face, noted that, according to a 2016 survey by Girls in Tech, of all the start-ups that raised funds in 2015, only 15% were founded or co-founded by women. Moreover, these start-ups accounted for only 10% of total funding raised.
L'Oréal is the world’s number one beauty group, with a portfolio of 35 international brands and 20 R&D centres active in 11 countries, home to more than 4,000 researchers and 3,000 technology professionals. The group employs 85,400 people worldwide. In fiscal 2021, the group generated a revenue of €32.287 billion.
Q1 figures for Farfetch were more muted than some of its recent results and the company warned about the future impact of the wider macroeconomic backdrop that’s currently hurting fashion businesses at all price levels.
In a conference call, founder, chairman and CEO José Neves, also said there's no certainty that the company will make the long-awaited investment in Richemont's Yoox Net-A-Porter e-commerce unit. Richemont had seen its shares sliding a week ago after saying that talks were still happening but it hadn't reached a deal.
For the first three months of the year -- which pre-dated its recent major beauty launch and other key developments -- Farfetch reported Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) and Digital Platform GMV up 1.7% and 2.5% year-on-year, respectively, to $930.8 million and $809.5 million.
Revenue rose 6.1% to $514.8 million while the gross profit margin dipped to 44.8% from 45.5% and the Digital Platform Order Contribution margin was down to 32.7% from 33%.
That translated into a Q1 adjusted EBITDA loss of $35.8 million (wider than the $19.2 million loss of a year earlier) and net profit of $728.8 million. That was higher than the $516.6 million of the previous year but included a one-off non-cash benefit.
The company sad the Q1 Digital Platform GMV growth reflected order growth across the marketplace; an increase in average order values (AOV) from $618 to $632, driven by increases in the full-price item mix and number of items per order; as well as strong growth in the Americas, Middle East and Korea.
But this was offset by softer demand in other key markets, including Russia, where trade was suspended from March with no indication of when trade might resume. China was also tough due to local Covid-19 restrictions that continue to impact orders from the mainland.
Brand Platform GMV decreased by 11.2% to $99.7 million, due to continued delays in order shipments and resulting cancellations arising from the migration to a new warehouse partner. The transition was completed this month, but it said delayed shipments could negatively impact margins into Q2. The GMV decrease also included a 4.5% decline due to changes in foreign exchange rates.
But in-store GMV increased by 62% to $21.5 million, driven by additional openings of New Guards brands’ stores in the last 12 months, as well as growth from existing stores.
José Neves, said: “Our core business remains very strong, in spite of the macro events in China and ceasing operations in Russia, which impacted our performance and outlook. We are galvanised by the opportunity to focus our efforts in 2022 to further rationalise our business, aligning our fixed-cost profile with lower near-term growth, which I believe will enable us to exit 2022 from a position of strength.”
Outside of these external factors, he added that the business saw strong marketplace growth in the Americas and the Middle East, with its “customer and luxury brand relations going from strength to strength, and we continue to make progress towards our mission of building the global platform for luxury”.
And CFO Elliot Jordan said the results “demonstrate our underlying strength and ability to adapt to the changing macro environment whilst building on the momentum we have achieved over recent years. We have navigated unprecedented challenges, grown Digital Platform GMV 64% on a two-year basis, and continue to operate at scale in the global luxury market.
“In light of the current environment we will be tailoring our resource allocation with an eye towards leveraging the platform model advantage we have to increase market share, while also positioning ourselves to expand our profitability to deliver shareholder value.”
For the full year, the company scaled back its outlook and now expects Digital Platform GMV growth of 5% to 10% and Brand Platform GMV growth of 10% to 15%. The adjusted EBITDA margin will be between 0% and 1%.
It said that “uncertainties resulting from the impact of the pandemic, macroeconomic factors and geopolitical turmoil, including the war in Ukraine, could have material impacts on our future performance and projections”.
Despite the cautious outlook and wider loss, the company’s shares rose after the results were released. Having fallen earlier in the week, investors could have been expecting worse news from the firm and were relieved at the actual figures.
London’s Oxford Street is heralded as the UK’s busiest shopping destination, but it’s still struggling to get back to pre-pandemic levels of attraction, according to data from Datscha.
Footfall in Oxford Street is still 52% lower than 2019 levels, making it the worst-hit high street across the UK, analysis by RSM UK claims. It cited the continuing impact of hybrid working, less commuting into the city than in previous years, and the reduction in international and business travel.
Although overall UK footfall was up 4% month-on-month in April, that was driven by significant increases in other cities, including Leeds (+23%), Glasgow (+16%) and Manchester (+11%). London could only managed a month-on-month footfall increase of 5% last month.
But although there are positive signs of recovery across the UK, footfall as a whole, is still 28% lower than in 2019.
Jacqui Baker, partner and head of retail at RSM UK which commissioned the figures, said: “London is still at less than half its capacity when compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“Unfortunately, it’s likely this will continue until the summer when it’s hoped that more international tourists will visit the UK and footfall returns to much healthier levels.”
UK high street kidswear and nursery brand Mamas & Papas is recovering from the pandemic and said sales to the end of March were up 36% year-on-year, “buoyed by more openings, new product launches and its enhanced online presence”.
Over a third of the group sales by volume come from overseas operations, which include 20 franchisee stores across the Middle East and a network of distributors and agents in 40 countries.
The company also gave more details about its plans to step up the expansion of its UK store network over the next 12 months.
It aims to more than double the number of concessions through its strategic partnership with Next, adding another 19 to the 14 it already operates with the retail giant, creating up to 200 jobs.
These will be in addition to the 22 standalone stores it also operates.
It’s part of its “post-pandemic bricks and mortar expansion drive”, which could also include additional concessions with other retailers that are “keen to provide customers with a best-in-class nursery offer”. No further details were available on which retailers it’s talking to.
COO Nathan Williams said: “The pandemic showed us just how much our customers missed visiting our stores. There’s simply no substitute for the quality and depth of experience you can create with bricks and mortar.
“That’s why we’re currently investing so significantly in opening new space across the UK and accelerating the growth of our store estate further this year with new and existing concession partners.”