Clarks shoes making great strides abroad

Marion Dakers
BRITISH shoe retailer Clarks has put its best foot forward at home and abroad in the last year, with tie-ups and sales growth in most countries giving its profits a boost.

For the year to the end of January, C&J Clark Limited posted £1.54bn in revenues, up 5.5 per cent on the prior year. Pre-tax profits rose 5.5 per cent to £119.8m, according to recently filed accounts.

The firm said back-to-school offers had been particularly strong in UK and Ireland, where it makes more than 40 per cent of its revenues. Clarks opened 11 new stores in the two countries and refitted a further 19 during the year.

Shoes from the firm’s joint range with designer Orla Kiely sold faster than Clarks expected, which it said augured well for high-end designs in its shops.

Shoppers in Asia brought in £125m, or 18.6 per cent more revenues than the previous year. Clarks sold 4.25m pairs of shoes in Asia Pacific, meaning the region is close to overtaking mainland Europe on sales volumes.

Meanwhile, a more modest 6.4 per cent revenue rise in the Americas to £625.9m was offset by discounting amid “an increasingly price-competitive consumer landscape”.

Clarks bought a distribution business in Turkey last summer and has recently snapped up 36 shops in southern China to help with its international push.

“I believe the past year has seen us make significant progress in implementing our strategy of transforming Clarks into a global brand,” said chief executive Melissa Potter.

Clarks was founded in 1825 by Cyrus and James Clark in Somerset, and their family owns 84.1 per cent of the firm’s sharess, with the rest held by employees, institutions and company trusts. Clarks raised its dividend by 10 per cent for the year.

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