Boohoo beats City forecasts as online retail trumps the high street


The online retailer, which targets fashion conscious teens and twenty-somethings, has posted a 55 per cent jump in sales to £114.3m over the four months to December 31, exceeding the most optimistic analyst prediction of a 46 per cent rise.

In the UK sales rose by 31 per cent to £65m while the US delivered the strongest growth out of Boohoo’s international markets with sales jumping by 230 per cent to £19.7m, helped by its Black Friday promotions.

As a result of the strong trading the company has raised its revenue guidance and said it expects to report a sales rise of between 43 per cent and 45 per cent for the year to February 28, compared to previous guidance of between 38 per cent and 42 per cent.

“Trading in the four months to December 31, 2016 has been strong across all regions,” said joint chief executives Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane. “Our strategy offering great pricing, enticing promotions and an ever-broader range of the latest fashion continues to drive growth and enhance customer lifetime value.”

The company recently completed the takeover of fast-growing smaller rival PrettyLittleThing,  which was founded by Mr Kamani’s son, Umar. Boohoo said including PrettyLittleThing’s revenue would would lift group revenue growth to between 46 per cent and 48 per cent and an earnings margin of between 11 per cent and 12 per cent.

Boohoo is also bidding to buy bankrupt online retailer Nasty Gal, which would accelerate its growth in the US.

The company aims to hit more than £1bn in annual sales over the next five years.

Boohoo’s sales jump raises fresh questions about how traditional bricks and mortar retailers can compete with nimbler online rivals who also don’t have costly rents and business rates to contend with.

Online sales across the entire retail sector has been outpacing in-store growth for some time now.They grew 18 per cent last year and by 27 per cent over the past two years, according to figures from BDO, an accountancy firm, while bricks and mortar sales fell over both periods.