Snow hits Ted Baker sales

FASHION chain Ted Baker today reported a slowdown in group sales growth as UK trading was hit by the extreme weather in the run up to Christmas.

The British designer brand reported a 7.6 per cent rise in group retail sales for the eight weeks to January 8, compared with 8.6 per cent in the third quarter to November 13.

Despite the adverse weather hampering UK trade, the company said it would meet profit expectations for the year, as sales since Christmas had been particularly strong across the group.

Chief executive and founder Ray Kelvin said while the economic outlook remained uncertain, the company would continue to expand the brand globally with 2011 new store openings planned in Manchester, Paris and Hong Kong.

Ted Baker said UK trading started the festive season well, but was impacted as last month's snow crippled Britain's high street.

But the group was able to maintain profit margins as it held back from significant promotional or discount activity in the run up to Christmas.

It expects to end the season with no excess stock following strong post-Christmas sales and forecasts annual pre-tax profits in the range of 23.5m to 25.2m.

Ted Baker has 31 wholly-owned stores, 143 concessions and nine discount outlets in the UK.

Across Europe it owns another two stores, 11 concessions and one outlet, while it has a burgeoning overseas portfolio.

The group said it was particularly pleased with the performance of recently opened stores in Chicago and New York over Christmas.

Matthew McEachran, analyst at Singer Capital Markets, said Ted Baker was "an exciting emerging global brand".

He said: "Management has indicated that UK trading started the autumn season well but when the snow arrived it had an adverse impact including, we believe, on some stores' ability to open.

"Nevertheless, given a strong product offering across their collections, performance picked up again after the snow went away and when the industry clearance commenced."