Paul Weller’s menswear label Real Stars Are Rare has fallen short of its 400,000 pound target for its crowdfunding campaign to help expand the brand.

The fashion label, which offers tailoring, knitwear, jerseys, and shirting, as well as accessories, raised 58 percent of its target attracting 232,270 pounds of its total from 198 investors on Crowdcube.

Following the disappointment of missing out on its target, Real Stars Are Rare released a statement on social media announcing that they would instead “move the conversation forward with a smaller group of investors and interested parties.”

The statement also thanked everyone who supported the crowdfunding campaign and added that it was “disappointing” that it would not be able to “include everyone at this stage”.

The brand, which is sold online and in co-founder’s Phil Bickley’s menswear shop Tonic on London’s Portobello Road, had achieved sales of over 400,000 pounds without any marketing budget since launching in 2014, however, it was hoping to boost the label with the 400,000 pound investment to help it achieve targeted sales of 2 million pounds by 2021.

The investment funds were also set to help the men’s clothing brand aimed at “fashion-conscious” men aged from 25-55 with its pared back Mod aesthetic to open a standalone store in 2018.

Ecco FY16 pre-tax profit reduces to 170 mn euros

Ecco turnover reached 1,251million euros (1,343 million dollars), on par with the company’s turnover in 2015. The profit before tax was reduced from 183 million euros (196 million dollars) to 170 million euros (182 million dollars), which the company said was primarily because of currency fluctuations.

“Despite generally slow growth in the global shoe industry, increased production costs, and fierce competition in 2016, ECCO has delivered a reasonable financial result and has even gained market shares,” said Steen Borgholm, the company’s new CEO in a media release.

Sales through Ecco shops rose 10 percent

The company said that during the year under review, the number of pairs of shoes sold increased 5 percent. Its currency-adjusted sales through the company-owned shops were up 10 percent, while sales through Ecco online increased 46 percent.

At the end of the year, Ecco and its partners operated 100 new concept shops. Borgholm expects 2017 to be another challenging year but, added that as the company has undertaken many initiatives, increased investments, and strengthened the organisation, a result on par with 2016 is expected.

Dieter Kasprzak steps down as Ecco CEO

The company also announced that at Ecco’s upcoming supervisory board meeting, Dieter Kasprzak will step down as CEO.

”I am grateful for the significant contribution my husband has made to the increasingly successful operation of the company over the past 13 years,” added Ecco’s Chairman, Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak in the statement, further saying, ”Dieter is handing over a healthy and financially strong company. Furthermore, I am pleased to confirm Steen Borgholm as Ecco’s new CEO.”

Picture:Ecco website

VF Corp targets 4 to 6 percent revenue growth through 2021

VF Corporation’s revenue through 2021 is expected to grow at a five-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) between 4 percent and 6 percent. The company, announcing a strategic growth plan said that the growth would be fuelled by VF’s largest brands - the Vans, The North Face and Timberland brands and its international and direct-to-consumer business platforms. Earnings per share are expected to grow between 10 percent and 12 percent.

“Our 2021 strategic growth plan fuels our aspiration to consistently grow by creating amazing products and brand experiences that transform and improve the lives of consumers worldwide,” said Steve Rendle, President and CEO, in a statement, adding, “The strength and consistency of our largest brands and business platforms give me great confidence in our ability to achieve our targets.”

Expects to return 8 bn dollars to shareholders

Gross margin is expected to reach 51.5 percent in 2021, while operating margin is expected to reach 16 percent. The company expects to generate more than 9 billion dollars of cash from operations on a cumulative basis between 2017 and 2021 and return 8 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. VF expects to deliver annual total shareholder return (TSR) in the 13 percent to 15 percent range as the company continues to target top quartile TSR performance.

The company's board of directors also authorized a change in VF’s fiscal year end from the Saturday closest to December 31 of each year to the Saturday closest to March 31 of each year, effective for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2018. Based on the seasonality and increasing weight of VF’s direct-to-consumer business, the company expects this change in fiscal year gives the company greater visibility into projecting revenue growth and planning expenses. The board approved a new 5 billion dollars share repurchase authorization.

Picture:Timberland website

Kering and Plug and Play have joined hands. The former has become the first founding anchor partner of the ‘Plug and Play - Fashion for Good’ accelerator, a collaboration with Fashion for Good and the C&A Foundation to fast-track sustainable innovation within the luxury and apparel industries. A statement from Kering said that via this accelerator, the partners will identify innovative start-ups and support them in scaling-up their technologies, methodologies and business models.

“Collaborations like the Plug and Play - Fashion for Good accelerator will allow the textile industry to move more rapidly toward finding essential solutions to the challenges we all face,” said Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and head of international institutional affairs of Kering in a statement.

Kering becomes anchor partner of ‘Plug and Play - Fashion for Good’ accelerator

Kering and the partners aim to stimulate disruptive innovation, transform conventional processes in luxury, and enable the widespread adoption of sustainable practices. As a first step, a short list of early-stage innovators were invited to pitch their technologies and projects to the partners, during the launch of the Fashion for Good centre in Amsterdam today. A final selection of ten start-ups, to be announced in early April, will become part of the accelerator and a unique three-month mentoring programme.

Commenting on the initiative, Leslie Johnston, Executive Director of C&A Foundation (founder of Fashion for Good) said that Fashion for Good inspires the daring invention and widespread adoption of good fashion practice. “Through collaboration with Kering, and other partners, we are working to give promising start-up innovators the funding and expertise they need to grow so we can shift fashion from being less bad to more good”, Johnston added.

Kering and Plug and Play will work with the selected start-ups to accelerate their innovations by providing training, mentorship, networking opportunities, and other valuable resources. The accelerator will take a 360° approach to supply chain innovation, by concentrating on three priority areas: raw material sourcing; fabric and garment production (dyeing, finishing, sewing); and end of use (recycling, circular economies). A particular focus will be placed on innovations that can improve the textile industry’s approach to water use, energy use, waste, chemical use, and labour practices.

"In Plug and Play's ten years of investing in start-ups, we have helped more than 7,000 innovators build their dreams. Now, we want to build our dream: a world of innovators committed to improving our global community and environment," added Saeed Amidi, Founder and CEO of Plug and Play.

After filing for bankruptcy earlier this year, BCBG Max Azria has confirmed it will have mass layoffs in the next coming months. Starting May 11, the retailer will lay off approximately 116 people.

According to Apparel News, the layoffs will be across all departments for the company. While the company has undergone some recent changes, including hiring on Bergd Kroeber as its new Creative Director and Executive VP, BCBG Max Azria is still struggling to keep its business afloat. In comparison to its last layoffs in November, the company is letting go of seven less employees. Although the number is slightly less, it still doesn’t mean good news for the business’s future.

The brand declared bankruptcy on February 28 with approximately 500 million dollars to 1 billion dollars in debt, according to Apparel News. The layoffs are most likely a way to help restructure the company and help BCBG Max Azria come out of debt. Currently, the company has until March 30 for an entity to decide whether or not it may want to buy BCBG Max Azria, which would effectively close the brand. While the layoffs may help temporarily, the future of the company still doesn’t seem to be very promising.

Matchesfashion.com's annual sales and profit soar

Matchesfashion.com, the business, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, has posted 61 percent jump in sales to 204 million pounds (253 million dollars) at the year ending January 31, 2016, says a Retail Week report. The company’s EBITDA zoomed five-fold to reach 19 million pounds (23.5 million dollars).

The report added that the company’s both domestic as well as international markets contributed to the strong sales results. While the UK posted growth of over 45 percent, rest of the world sales rose 80 percent. Average order value also grew 14 percent to 511 pounds (634 dollars), and the company witnessed a 60 percent jump in its number of new customers.

Founded by Ruth and Tom Chapman, the etailer now delivers to over 170 countries worldwide. It also operates five boutiques across London, and a townhouse in Marylebone where it caters to its exclusive VIP clients.

Picture:Matchesfashion website

C&A launches Fashion for Good Centre in Amsterdam

Global fashion retailer C&A together with its corporate foundation, the C&A Foundation, wants to transform the fashion industry and drive its transition to a circular economy. Thus, as a founding partner, it has launched the global initiative Fashion for Good that wants to bring industry players together to "reimagine how fashion is designed, made, used and reused". From today onward, it is inviting those who want to learn more about the initiative to its newly opened Fashion for Good Centre at Rokin 102 in Amsterdam, hoping for a global coalition of brands, producers, retailers, suppliers, non-profit organisations, innovators and funders.

“The C&A Foundation is here to transform the fashion industry, and we recognise that to do this we need to completely change mindsets. That is why we founded Fashion for Good. It aims to inform a new way of thinking and at the same time nurture and embed innovations that can bring crucial change. This kind of transformation can only be done with others, so today we are calling for brands, manufacturers, funders and innovators to join us and work together to realise our shared vision,” said Leslie Johnston, executive director of the C&A Foundation.

C&A launches Fashion for Good Centre in Amsterdam

There are 'Five Goods' in particular that Fashion for Good wants to focus on and improve: materials, economy, energy, water and lives. “The Five Goods represent an aspirational framework we can all use to work towards a world in which we do not take, make, dispose, but rather take, make, remake,” explains William McDonough of McDonough Innovation, one of the partners.

“As a leading fashion retailer, we joined forces with Fashion for Good to bring collaboration around circularity to our supply chain. Our first proof point in this partnership was to develop a garment that exceeds all current levels of sustainability - demonstrating that it can be done”, said Jeffrey Hogue, chief sustainability officer of C&A and C&A Foundation board member. “We want to democratize our approach by sharing our learning with the industry through Fashion for Good to encourage other brands to join this holistic approach to designing products for their next life.”

C&A launches Fashion for Good Centre in Amsterdam

Other partners are the San Francisco-based Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative based in Utrecht, Netherlands, entrepreneurial network Impact Hub Amsterdam, the San Francisco-based Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Silicon Valley startup accelerator Plug and Play, French luxury group Kering and a few more.

Photos: Fashion for Good
BCBG Max Azria to have second round of mass layoffs in the last year

Los Angeles - It seems things are not getting any better for BCBG Max Azria in recent developments. Although the retailer was granted a bankruptcy loan earlier this month, the company will now be experiencing more mass layoffs starting this May.

Effective May 11, the company has given notice that it will have layoffs that will affect 116 employees, according to Apparel News. The new layoffs could be part of a new turnaround strategy, as the company just brought on Bergd Kroeber as its new Creative Director and Executive VP to help improve the business. The impending layoffs will include all departments, as they were all impacted. BCBG Max Azria just laid off 123 last year in November as well. Although slightly less than the year before, it still isn’t great news for the business as BCBG continues to undergo restructuring formats.

BCBG Max Azria announces layoffs following bankruptcy filing

The company filed for bankruptcy protection February 28 of this year. Since then the upscale retailer has taken action to take stock of its assets and what to sell. Wholesale operations have continued so far under Kroeber, FashionUnited reported earlier this month. Taking over his new roles, Kroeber succeeded Lubov Azria, who was laid off a couple of weeks ago.

BCBG Max Azria has struggled along with other retailers recently. American Apparel, Wet Seal, and Nasty Gal have all suffered from financial struggles in keeping their brands afloat. The brand declared bankruptcy with approximately 500 million dollars to 1 billion dollars in debt, according to Apparel News. The layoffs may be an attempt to help allocate some of the company’s finances in a more effective way.

For the future, it is not certain what will happen to BCBG Max Azria. The retailer seems to making its last strides in order to save the brand and its stores with a new strategy. The company could also be acquired or sold soon, which could end the brand indefinitely. The company has a deadline of Thursday, March 30, for other businesses to show interest in buying BCBG Max Azria. If the company does not find a solution soon, it seems that the designer brand could nearing its end pretty soon.

Photo: BCBG Max Azria

SMCP Group turnover increases 16.4 percent in FY16

In 2016, SMCP Group sales reached 786 million euros (844 million dollars), representing a growth of 16.4 percent. The company’s like-for-like sales growth stood at 7.1 percent, which SMCP said, reflected market share gains and an outperformance in comparison to the sector. The profitability (EBITDA) increased by 22 percent reaching 130 million euros (139 million dollars).

Commenting on these results, Daniel Lalonde, President & CEO of SMCP, said in a media release, “With 16.4 percent growth, we exceeded our targets in 2016, and accelerated the implementation of our strategic plan. This year again, our results confirm the strength of our unique business model, as well as the agility and talent of SMCP’s teams. In 2017 we will strengthen our position among the global leaders in accessible luxury”.

Financial highlights of 2016

In France, sale rose 9 percent with Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot gaining market share. In 2016, SMCP said, e-commerce sales grew by nearly 80 percent and represent around 10 percent of the group’s revenues. The penetration rate of e-commerce was particularly high in the United States and in the United Kingdom where it exceeds 15 percent. The group launched of two dedicated websites in China (Sandro and Maje on Tmall.com) during the year.

The development of the accessories range is part of the group’s objective to make Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot global lifestyle brands. The company said 2016 was marked by the success of the "M", Maje's hit bag and sales of accessories rose sharply by 42 percent over the year. In February 2017, the Group announced a partnership with the global player Mondottica to develop eyewear collections for the Sandro and Maje brands, completing the range of accessories after shoes and leather goods.

SMCP continues to expand in global markets

Also in 2016, the new concept for Sandro Homme stores was deployed in France, Italy and Greater China. Finally, the company said, its international targeted expansion continues. 90 openings were made internationally this year. Among the most notable were those on the Hong Kong Fashion Walk, on Yorkdale Mall in Toronto, on Via Frattina in Rome and on Via Roma in Florence, Italy.

The company opened total 105 new stores over the year, mainly outside France and operated 1,223 points of sale at the end of the year and its brands were present in 36 countries. SMCP added that consistent with previous years, opening of new points of sale will continue at the pace of 100 to 125 openings per year.

Picture:SMCP website

Despite 7 percent rise, H&M calls Q1 sales disappointing

The H&M group’s sales including VAT amounted to 54,369 million Swedish krona (6,125 million dollars) in the first quarter, an increase of 7 percent. Sales excluding VAT amounted to 46,985 million Swedish krona, an increase of 8 percent, while sales in local currencies increased by 4 percent. The company also announced that it would launch a new brand Arket under its portfolio by early autumn 2017.

In the first quarter sales including VAT increased to just over 54 billion Swedish krona, an increase of 7 percent, which was below our plan. For fashion retail in general, market conditions were very tough in many of our large markets in central and southern Europe and in the US, and this was reflected in our sales,” said Karl-Johan Persson, H&M CEO in a statement.

Profit after tax decreases to 2,457 mn Swedish krona

The group’s profit after tax amounted to 2,457million Swedish krona (276 million dollars) compared to 2,545 million Swedish krona (286 million dollars), corresponding to 1.48 Swedish krona (0.17 dollar) per share. The company said, profits in the quarter were negatively affected by lower sales growth than planned as well as higher mark-downs.

Gross profit increased to 24,466 million Swedish krona against 22,699 Swedish krona, same quarter last year. This corresponds to a gross margin of 52.1 percent. Profit after financial items amounted to 3,212 million Swedish krona compared to 3,327 million Swedish krona.

The H&M group’s sales including VAT in the period March 1 to March 28, 2017 increased by 7 percent in local currencies compared to the same period the previous year.

H&M to launch new brand Arket in autumn 2017

A new brand under H&M umbrella called Arket will be launched in early autumn 2017 and H&M Home will open its first standalone stores in 2018.

The company said, Arket will offer a broad yet selected range of essentials for men, women and children, as well as a smaller, curated assortment for the home. Arket stores will also include a café where location permits. The first such store will open in London and online in 18 European markets in early autumn 2017, followed by stores in Brussels, Copenhagen and Munich.

“We have seven brands today – H&M, COS, & Other Stories, Monki, Weekday, Cheap Monday and H&M Home – and soon it will be time for our next exciting launch, Arket. There will be products in a broad price range, however in a slightly higher price segment than H&M with emphasis on materials, function and fit. The range will be supported by a selection of external brands,” added Persson.

In addition, H&M said, five new physical stores will open during the year in Kazakhstan, Colombia, Iceland, Vietnam and Georgia. The first H&M store in Kazakhstan opened in Almaty in mid-March. In addition, H&M plans to continue its online roll-out into six new markets of Turkey, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia which are planned to open during the first half of 2017.

Commenting on the company’s strategy ahead, Persson said, “The optimisation of our store portfolio also continues, particularly in those markets that did not perform sufficiently well. Among other things, this includes closures, the addition of more store space and rebuilds. We are also in the process of developing a new and upgraded version of our H&M stores with a new visual look.”

Picture:H&M website