The brand behind the retailing billionaire stellar growth Solomon Lew’s at Premier Investments is less about the rag trade and more about pure retailing with more than half an eye on the online market.
Its slogan is: Where smile meets giggle. And it’s called Smiggle.
The chain store for kids with eye-watering brightly coloured stationery and accessories just grew sales 46.5% to $109 million in the six months to December.
That result drove another record half year profit for the company of $71.5 million, up 25.9%.
What’s driving that sales growth is an aggressive store opening program. Smiggle is in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, but it’s the UK where the big boost is coming from.
Smiggle UK opened 18 new stores in the first half for a total of 42 stores in high traffic locations including all of the top ten performing shopping centres.
And Premier plans to open another 28 stores before the end of the financial year and get to a total of about 100 in the UK by Christmas this year.
Asia is also on the agenda. Smiggle will open its first two stores in Hong Kong and its first store in Malaysia in the next couple of months. Premier sees potential for 50 stores across Malaysia and Hong Kong over the next five years.
While Premier a stable of top performing stores — Just Jeans, Portmans, Dotti, Jay Jays and Jacquie-E — Solomon Lew believes that Smiggle has the potential to become a truly global brand.
And the best part of Smiggle is that it is a high margin business. The other high margin brand at Premier is Peter Alexander, the cool sleepwear store, where sales grew 22.5% over the six months.
While the Across the business, the gross margin grew by 139 basis points to 64.8%.
Smiggle also lends itself to online sales. There are no numbers available just for the stationery stores but the company overall grew online sales by 47.7%.
Solomon Lew’s CEO, Mark McInnes, who used to run David Jones, says the entire portfolio of brands is delivering growth and great returns.
But the concentration of effort is at Smiggle and Peter Alexander.
“These results are proof that the team we have in place is delivering on our strategy to rejuvenate our core brands, focus on efficiency, and drive the growth of Smiggle, Peter Alexander, and our online offer,” says McInnes.