Mulberry banks on cheaper bags to revive sales

 
Kasmira Jefford
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Mulberry is pinning its hopes on a new cheaper range of leather handbags to win back British customers after an ill-fated attempt to seem more upmarket sent profits tumbling last year.

Under previous chief executive Bruno Guillon, who left the group in March, Mulberry was criticised for alienating its core customers after attempting to move from affordable luxury to high-end designer.

Executive chairman Godfrey Davis, who has stepped in to run the business, said it listened to its customers and its new range of bags, Tessie, which launched two weeks ago, was selling as fast as some of its best selling lines.

“We have some passionate customers who were jolly cross with us and we have listened to them,” Davis said.

He denied that the company was performing a U-turn on its pricing strategy: “We have successfully introduced products at higher price points – improved our quality and that’s good. But we haven’t focused on our key entry level price point and we are addressing that issue with vigour.”

Profits almost halved in the year to 31 March to £14m compared with £26m last time, in line with its April warning, which it also blamed on the cost of opening new stores overseas.

Like-for-like sales fell 15 per cent in the first 10 weeks of the year, which Davis said were distorted by last year’s boost from clearance sales. He expects the group to see an improvement in sales in the second half of the year.

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