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Dr Martens to build on Asian outperformance

Dr Martens has outlined plans to build its presence in China and Japan, following double-digit sales increases across its retail, wholesale and online operations.

Revenue at the British footwear brand climbed by 25% to £290.6m in the year to 31 March 2017, boosted by its performance in Asia, where sales grew by 43% to £66.4m.

Chief financial officer Jon Mortimore told Drapers the focus now is on growing this market, in which it continues to be “under-represented” – particularly in China, where it is in the process of changing its distribution model.

Dr Martens also aims to build on its success in Japan, where revenue for the year increased by 88% to £22m.

Mortimore said: “We upgraded our Japanese ecommerce and refurbished our key store in Harajuku [district of Tokyo], which shows off our new products and forms a real connection with customers. We anticipate our positive momentum there will continue.”

It is also planning to shift to a direct wholesale subsidiary model in Germany in 2019, after its distributor agreement in the country expires.

Its domestic performance showed a more modest increase. Like-for-like UK sales rose by 5% during the year. Total UK revenue grew by 20%, and it opened four new stores. Store count on 30 March totalled 27 in the UK and 71 globally.

Mortimore said: “We’re pleased with the results we saw in the UK in [terms of] the economy at the moment. We had a little bump last year post-Brexit, as many retailers did, with consumer confidence dropping, but on the other hand a lot of tourists came into London last year on the back of the weaker pound, which balanced it out.”

Nearly 30% of its total revenue in the year came from new products, driven by the launch of its DM’s Lite range, which sold 200,000 pairs. 

Mortimore also cited “great success” with its brand collaborations, which last year included Comme des Garçons and Supreme. While he said the business needs to “be careful that it doesn’t become associated [too closely] with its collaborations”, they form a significant part of its strategy going forward.

Ecommerce platforms will be upgraded in coming weeks, starting with the US, as will in-house IT systems. It also expects to open around 10 more stores globally in the second half of this year, having opened 10 so far in the first half.

Meanwhile, it plans to refurbish its five stores in New York, in a bid to drive sales in the region, where the market remains tough.

Like-for-like US retail sales on a constant currency basis was up 2%, but wholesale revenue declined. The brand said this was on the back of a strategic decision to “cease supplying low margin special made-for-customer product to certain accounts”.

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