Bay Trading hit by sales gloom

Shares in Bay Trading womenswear firm Alexon slumped more than 20% today as the retailer painted a grim picture of high street trading.

Bay Trading – aimed at 18 to 25 year-olds – saw like-for-like sales fall 12.5% in the eight weeks since the end of July.

Same-store sales of its other brands – which include Minuet, Kaliko, Ann Harvey and Dash – were down 3.3% in the “challenging” trading environment.

Alexon’s gloomy snapshot came alongside a 41% fall in pre-tax profits to £5.5m (€6.9m) in the six months to July 26.

The group also slashed its interim dividend by two-thirds and added that its full-year performance would hinge on Christmas trading.

But shares were much as 22% lower as analysts marked the stock down.

Numis Securities analyst Andrew Wade said: “Looking ahead, Alexon is in a very challenging space, the brands being squeezed by the department stores and Bay Trading suffering in an increasingly difficult middle market.”

Bay Trading made first-half operating losses of £1.4m (€1.8m) and these could widen to £5m (€6.3m) over the full year, Mr Wade added.

New chief executive Jane McNally said the group was “underperforming its potential” despite the challenging market.

Since joining the Luton-based group three months ago, she has drafted in Jane Eskriett – previously womenswear director at New Look and Primark – to carve out a new niche for the brand.

The firm currently has a total of 1,332 outlets and concessions in Europe, although Alexon guided that will fall by 2% in the second half of the year.

Dresdner Kleinwort analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi added: “The new chief executive is moving fast to strengthen the operational team and has made some good hires, but it will take time to turn the business around.”

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