Tuesday, November 14, 2017

News: Fishing Republic tackles falling sales


Rotherham-based retailer, Fishing Republic, has brought in a new CEO to continue to grow its online sales having seen "a significant deterioration in trading."

One of the largest fishing tackle retailers in the UK, the Eastwood company floated on the AIM stock exchange in 2015, raising millions to help carry out its expansion plans. A new share placing during 2016 landed a further £3.75m.

Fishing Republic is acting as a consolidator and expansion plans involve new larger format stores and snapping up smaller, often family-owned fishing retail businesses. It is also moving online sales away from third party websites to its own sites where margins are higher.

In a trading update, the firm said that the deterioration was due to a substantial increase in price competition as major competitors and independent stores have aggressively sought to maintain their market share, particularly at the end of the main fishing season.

Fishing Republic has seen a reduction in monthly like-for-like store sales for the first time this year, with a decline of 13% in October. This is in contrast to like-for-like sales growth of 16% experienced in the nine months up to the end of September.

The online business was similarly affected and, whilst sales via its own website are up 116% and overall online sales are up 24% in the year-to-date, the board said that the "transition from third party sites to our own website is behind our expectations."


The business remains cash positive but the board is worried that the trading conditions will lead to an overall loss for the year.

Seven stores have opened this calendar year, with the network growing to 19, but the board said that the execution of the online model "requires further focus and acceleration."

Consequently, the board has agreed to appoint Chris Griffin (pictured) as acting CEO to conduct a strategic review. The update said: "Chris has a very strong e-commerce, retail and logistics background and was director of E-commerce at SuperGroup plc, owner of the Superdry brand, from 2010 and 2014, during which time online sales grew from £3m to £60m. More recently, he founded and built the revolutionary supply chain software business, Anatwine Limited.

"Chris will be particularly focussed on improving execution of the e-commerce business and the capital efficiency of the business, especially in further reducing and making better use of inventory."

Steve Gross, the company founder, will step down as CEO but will remain on the board as an executive director. Zoe Gross, operations director and Paul Hagerty, IT director, will step down from the board with immediate effect.

Fishing Republic website

Images: Fishing Republic / Anatwine


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