September’s retail results: The winners and losers

Retail Sector analyses a myriad of financial results released by five retail subsectors thus far in September, split into supermarkets, fashion, sportswear, DIY/home, and e-commerce

Retail can be argued as the industry that has shifted the most as a direct result of the global pandemic, and continues to change as we enter a post-pandemic period. The rise of e-commerce has been accompanied by high profile high street closures, supermarkets have become the centre of private equity attention, and rafts of fashion retailers have begun to limit the damages they were dealt in 2020.

Sometimes it is difficult to compare the performances of such businesses in a sector that is so diverse. So, Retail Sector has collated the financial reports of five retail subsectors that have been submitted since the turn of September, in turn aiming to quantify the results of certain UK and global companies against their competitors.


The UK’s largest grocery retailers have been placed under microscopic attention over the past 18 months, especially Asda and Morrisons. With the Morrisons takeover saga raging on, and Asda’s Issa brother acquisition completed, these two brands have garnered the greatest intrigue thus far in Autumn 2021. In turn, the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of this subsector may not wholly lie with who saw the greatest leap in revenues and profitability, but instead who is set to take advantage of M&A opportunities.

Nonetheless, Asda and Morrisons reported positives and negatives in their most recent financials. While Asda achieved a 3.1% two-year revenue increase to over £5bn for the quarter ended 30 June 2021, this represented a 0.7% decline when compared to FY20’s Covid-19-related boosted results. 

Meanwhile, Morrisons may have experienced a 3.7% year-on-year rise to total revenues of £9.05bn for the half year ended 1 August, yet the supermarket group saw profit before tax and exceptionals plummet 37.1% in the period. Andrew Higginson, chair of the firm, attributed this to supplier “disruption” and the “impact on our supply chain of HGV driver shortages.


For the fashion brands operating in the UK, September’s results to date have generally followed a pattern of recovery. While Reiss and Superdry posted respective FY21 losses of £13.8m and £36.7m, the trajectory of each company’s financial performance shows promise. In the 30 weeks since the period end, Reiss saw a 52% year-on-year climb in revenues, while Superdry’s revenues slowly increased 1.9% year-on-year for the 18 weeks since period end.

Ted Baker also saw “encouraging progress” during a similar timeframe. With Q2 FY22 revenues at the group spiking 50% year-on-year, Rachel Osborne, CEO at the firm, said that “we are confident that Ted is starting to emerge from Covid a stronger and more resilient business”.

Again, posting a recovery after the immediate Covid-19 impacts, Zara’s owner Inditex swung to net profits of £1.08bn in FY21, up from FY20’s £166m losses. With revenues topping £10bn in the period, Zara claimed that it is “reaping the benefits of the strategic and sustainable transformation” in the group’s business model.


Although fashion retailers may be beginning to find their feet once again over the most recent months, the surge in sales of two individual brands provides further insight to one particular clothing subsector: sportswear.

JD Sports’ £440m in H1 FY21 profit before tax represented not only a 610% year-on-year spike, but also a 177% two-year rise. Following this “extremely encouraging” 26-week period ended 31 July 2021, the group raised its full year headline profit before tax forecast to at least £750m.

A second brand of particular note is Lululemon Athletica, the multinational athletic apparel retailer. Revenues at the group topped £1bn in Q2 of this year, an over 60% rise from both last year and 2019. This three month period also saw the group achieve £150m in net income, a year-on-year spike of 140%, consolidating the trend of soaring growth of multinational sportswear retailers.


A further industry that has undoubtedly benefited from the UK population’s extended periods of time spent at home is that of the home and DIY retailers. Thus far in September, Dunelm has reported a 44.6% year-on-year revenue growth to £157.8m for the year ended 26 June 2021, B&M expects adjusted EBITDA to top £275m for the 26 wells ended 25 September, and B&Q owner Kingfisher saw pre-tax profits hit £677m for the six months to 31 July.

While home retailers WH Smith and John Lewis did not see the same level of growth during the period throughout their entire operations, the department and pure retail arms of each brand also saw positive signs. As department sales grew 12% year-on-year at John Lewis in H1 FY22, revenues at WH Smith’s retail department grew to 84% of pre-Covid levels for the eight weeks to 28 August 2021. 

Evidently, of the home and DIY retailers to have released financial statements so far in September, only a raft of winners can be seen.


An area that has risen to particular prominence following the pandemic is e-commerce. Three key online retailers have published reports to date in September at the time of writing; The Hut Group, Made.com, and Ocado Group.

For The Hut Group, H1 FY21 revenues spiked 41.9% and adjusted EBITDA 38.6% when compared to H1 FY20. Matthew Moulding, executive chairman at the group, said that the firm will “continue to invest significantly” to achieve its “strategic growth ambitions”, while THG Beauty floats as a separate entity in FY22.

Made.com, which completed its own IPO in June, saw revenues jump 61% year-on-year to £106.3m as gross sales reached £213.9m in the first six months of 2021. Clearly, digital retailers are showing no signs of slowing as we enter the final quarter of the calendar year.

Finally, on paper, Ocado Retail, the joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks and Spencer Group, represents a break in the e-commerce drive. Revenues at the online supermarket fell 10.6% year-on-year to £517.5m in Q3 FY21. However, this was largely skewed by June’s Erith CFC fire. Despite the supply chain disruption, the group’s revenues marked a 54% two-year spike in the period, demonstrating the leaps and bounds made by the e-commerce subsector during this time.

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