Business

Ted Baker shares plunge 35% as sales slide

Ted Baker store Image copyright Reuters

Shares in fashion retailer Ted Baker have plunged 35% after it posted a loss and said trading remained tough.

The firm, which issued a profits alert in June and whose founder Ray Kelvin resigned in March, blamed fierce competition and unseasonable weather.

Its comments came as it reported a £23m loss for the six months to 10 August, down from a £24.5m profit last year.

Chairman David Bernstein said if things did not improve, second-half profits would also be below last year's.

"Trading conditions have been characterised by unprecedented and sustained levels of promotional activity across the sector with, in several cases, distressed discounting from brands and retailers and heightened competition," Mr Bernstein said.

Sales in the first half were down across every region the company operates in, including a 3.9% fall in the UK and Europe to £141.3m. North America was down 3.1% and the rest of the world down 15.2%. Online sales also fell by 1.3% to £52.3m, although the company's wholesale business was up 4% to £89.3m.

In June, Ted Baker's shares lost more than a quarter of their value after the firm warned investors to expect a fall in first-half profits. It blamed "unseasonable weather" across North America and heavy discounting.

These conditions are continuing Mr Bernstein said. "Trading in the second half has started slowly, not helped by the unseasonably warm weather in September, and this will have an impact on the full year outcome. If these trends continue, we will achieve a second half result below that of last year."

Emily Salter, retail analyst at Global Data, said it was worrying that online sales had also fallen, which meant that Ted Baker could not solely blame problems on the High Street.

The online arm had previously performed well, she said, adding: "This points to more significant problems with demand for the brand and the impacts of regular discounting."

The trading problems are the latest setback for the firm after Mr Kelvin left in March following harassment allegations.

Mr Kelvin, who had been chief executive since the company's launch in 1988, resigned over claims he presided over a culture of "forced hugging". He has denied all allegations of misconduct.

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