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Ten retailers defying high street blues in 2018

This year will likely go down in history as a turning point for high street retail in the UK, with a slew of firms going under, announcing job losses, store closures, or just going under completely. We have put together a list of those which, despite the blues, are making their mark and posting higher revenues.

Games Workshop

The hobbyists’ retailer announced in July that it had seen a pre-tax profit rise from £38.4m in the previous financial year to £74.5m in 2018. The hobby retailer also saw a £42m rise in revenue from £158m to £220m over the same period. Operating profit before receivable royalties also saw a large rise from £38.3m up to £74.6.

Kevin Rountree, CEO of Games Workshop, said of the results: “You can see from these results that our business and our Warhammer Hobby are in good shape. The response from our customers to our models and games and how we support them has again been fantastic, thank you. The board continues to believe that the prospects for the business are good.”


In July, Joules announced it had continued to defy the high street gloom by reporting double-digit growth in both revenue and profits. In its full-year results ending 27 May Joules posted group revenue of £185.9m, up 18% when compared with the £157m reported the previous year. Group revenue was boosted by a 35% increase in international revenue which Joules said now represents 13% of group revenue.

Joules chief executive Colin Porter said: “This performance is testament to the strength and appeal of the Joules brand and our distinctive products.”

Ted Baker

Ted Baker posted a 4.2% increase in group revenue for the 19-week period ending 9 June as it continued to defy the high street gloom. Ted Baker said the performance was achieved despite the impact of unseasonal weather across Europe and the East Coast of America in the early part of the period as well as “external trading conditions remaining challenging across many of our global markets”.

Ray Kelvin, founder and chief executive, said: “Ted Baker has continued to develop and expand as a global lifestyle brand across its markets and distribution channels despite challenging external trading conditions. This continued growth is testament to the strength of the Ted Baker brand, the design and quality of our collections as well as the dedication and talent of our teams.”


Budget fashion retailer Primark reported a 6% increase in sales in the 40 weeks to 23 June compared with the previous year. Associated British Foods (ABF), which owns Primark, said growth was driven by increased retail selling space in the UK and abroad, and as a result of “better trading across the eurozone”, with sales from its first four Italy stores “continuing to be very strong”.


Fashion retailer Quiz bucked a calamitous high street trend in the first half of 2018, announcing revenue growth of 30% from the previous financial year. Physical store sales grew by 12% and online sales by 158% compared with last year. The company also saw pre-tax profit rise slightly from £8.1m to £8.5m on last year, with the figures leading to management offering the company’s first ever dividend of 80p per share.

Tarak Ramzan, chief executive of Quiz said: “Quiz is continuing to grow its reputation as a leading fast-fashion brand known for fantastic value and quality. We have further expanded the brand with the successful launches of our Curve and Bridal ranges as well as the recent launch of Quizman.com.”


Fashion and homeware retailer Matalan reported a 4.9% increase in revenue for the 13 weeks ending 26 May 2018. Total revenue increased by £15.5m to £265.9m, with the group pointing to its children’s ranges as the “highlight this season” in addition to strong performance across the board.

Jason Hargreaves, CEO of Matalan, said: “Our first quarter represents a strong set of results. Good stock management, flexibility in our operating model and agility in our customer contact strategy helped us outperform a volatile market. Thanks to the hard work of our colleagues we continue to deliver consistently for customers and can be pleased with our performance.”


High street retailer Next posted a sales increase of 4.5% for the half year ending July 2018 but said it remained “cautious” in its outlook for the rest of the year. The retailer’s in-store sales amounted to £925.1m while its online sales were £892.3m for the six months. The total group sales was up 3.8% when compared with the previous year, while its profit before tax was up by 0.5%.

Lord Wolfson, chief executive, said: “The UK retail market remains volatile, subject to powerful structural and cyclical changes. Many of these headwinds have not abated. As expected, sales in our stores (which now account for just under half of our turnover) continue to be challenging.

“We believe the over-performance in the first half was flattered by the unusually warm summer and we remain cautious in our outlook for the rest of the year.”

The Works

Discount retailer The Works announced its strongest ever Christmas trading performance, delivering 15% total year-on-year sales growth over the 12 weeks ending 24 December 2017. The company, which sells gifts, arts and crafts and books recorded increased growth both in-store and online for a seventh consecutive year.

Kevin Keaney, CEO of The Works, said: “Our outstanding Christmas performance is the crowning achievement in what has been another hugely successful year for The Works. To deliver record sales both online and in-store in such a challenging economic environment and against strong comparatives from last year is an accomplishment we are extremely proud of.”

JD Sports

JD Sports recorded a “record result” in the 26 weeks to 4 August as it posted double-digit growth in both revenues and profits. The sports and fashion retailer’s revenues increased by 35% to £1.8bn and also saw pre-tax profits jump 19% from £102.7m to £121.9m. JD Sports also reported total like-for-like sales growth of more than 3% achieved against a “backdrop of widely reported retail challenges in the UK”.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman, said: “This is another record result for our group demonstrating that our multi-brand multi-channel premium offer has resilient profitability in its core UK and Ireland market with capacity for continued growth across an increasing number of international markets.

“Against a backdrop of widely reported retail challenges in the UK, it is extremely reassuring that the profitability in the UK and Ireland Sports Fascias has been further enhanced. This reflects the value of the investments that we have made over a number of years in developing a dynamic multichannel proposition which marries the best of physical and digital retail enabling customers to interact with us where and when they want and through the channel of their choice.”


Bonmarché fought off what it called “challenging trading conditions” affecting many high street retailers by posting a 38% increase in profit before tax to £8m in its latest preliminary results for FY18. The women’s clothing retailer reported a surge in profits despite a fall in revenue from £190m to £186m. Store like-for-like sales were down 4.5%, however online sales were up by 35%.
Helen Connolly, chief executive of Bonmarché, said: “Whilst we expect the market to remain difficult, trading since the beginning of the new financial year has been stronger than during H2 of FY18, and is in line with the board’s expectations.

“We have a clear strategy in place to continue to improve our proposition, which we expect to do during FY19 and beyond. We remain confident that with its unique offering, aimed at fashion and value conscious women, Bonmarché is well positioned for future growth.”

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