Fat Face plots first US store despite profit fall

 
Kasmira Jefford
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Fat Face has seen its sales rise to £205.4m
FAT FACE is gearing up for expansion overseas after revealing plans yesterday to open its first two stores in the US before Christmas.

The casual clothing chain, which has 216 shops in the UK and Ireland has invested a record £9m over the past year on improving its IT and distribution network as well as growing its footprint in the UK.

It now plans to take the brand across the pond, with the website already up and running and the first shop set to open in Portland, Maine in November.

“We would like to get two stores open before Christmas and further two or three before then end of the financial year,” chief executive Anthony Thompson told City A.M.

“The idea is to have around 10-15 stores in 18 months. Then we will stand back and see how they perform for a little while and then see where we go next,” he added.

Fat Face joins other UK retailers also making their first foray into the US including Primark, which will also open its first store in Boston next month.

Thompson said the weather on the east coast was the most similar to Europe and that the generally active lifestyles people led in the area fitted well with the brand.

Fat Face’s private equity owner Bridge­point was forced to pull plans for a £300m float last year after the market cooled. Thomp­son said a sale or a float was “not the focus right now” and that his sights are set firmly on growth in the UK and the US, with the view of eventually moving into mainland Europe.

The retailer has also reshuffled its management to reflect its strategy, with retail director Simon Greene promoted to international and property director and Mark Seager taking on responsibility for retail as well as becoming e-commerce director.

The news came as Fat Face said unadjusted earnings fell seven per cent to £36.5m in the year to 30 May, blaming last autumn’s unseasonably warm weather.

Total sales rose 2.7 per cent to £205.4m, with online sales up 11 per cent.