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More than a hundred years later, Burberry trench coats are still flying off the racks

Models present creations by Burberry Prorsum during the Spring/Summer 2014 London Collections: Men fashion event in London on June 18, 2013.
Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
By Marc Bain
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The numbers: Solid. Burberry reported sales of £2.5 billion ($3.9 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, an increase of 8% over fiscal 2014. It doesn’t quite match the growth of some previous years, but it was “a strong full year performance,” as CEO Christopher Bailey phrased it in the press release (pdf).

Reuters/Toby Melville
The model Jourdan Dunn is apparently a fan.

The takeaway: Cold-weather wear saw a substantial rise in sales. The company noted that “Combined, mainline sales of outerwear and soft accessories grew by nearly 20% in the year.” The key drivers were Burberry’s British-made heritage products, specifically its iconic trench coat, which first appeared in its current form about 100 years ago, and its cashmere scarves. The recent decision to allow customers to monogram scarves “attracted a very strong” response, the company said.

Clearly personalization is on Burberry’s radar, because monogramming is among the draws for its persistently popular ponchos as well. Back in January the company’s chief financial officer, Carol Fairweather, dubbed them “a standout success” and noted that 70% of the ponchos Burberry sold online were monogrammed. Evidently sales haven’t cooled on ponchos because Burberry called them out again in this earnings report.

What’s interesting: Despite strong sales figures, Burberry’s stock tanked on the news that it was cutting its guidance for the upcoming year. It shaved around £40 million ($62.2 million) off expectations for 2016 profits, largely because of adverse currency movements.

Volatile foreign exchange markets hurt the company in the current period too, knocking about £72 million ($111.8 million) off its revenue and £38 million ($59 million) off its profit.

The company hasn’t yet officially moved to harmonize prices of its products across markets, as Chanel did in March. But indications are that it’s quietly started doing just that

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