Coast owner happy with progress

Coast owner happy with progress

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The owner of fashion chains including Oasis, Coast and Warehouse has said it was accelerating its growth plans after a successful half-year performance.

Aurora Fashions was formed in March last year to buy the chains after the collapse of former owner Mosaic and its Icelandic backer Baugur.

The company, which also owns the Karen Millen brand, reported a 36% rise in underlying earnings to £17.8 million for the six months to July 31 and said it was moving to the next stage of its development ahead of schedule.

The latest part of its plan has seen Aurora appoint managing directors at each of its four brands for the first time.

The line-up includes Margaret McDonald, who has taken the helm at Coast after previously holding the role of chief executive at shoe chain LK Bennett. It has also appointed Hash Ladha, formerly marketing and operations director at ASOS, as director of Aurora’s multi-channel operations.

Chief executive Mike Shearwood said: “Appointing MDs to each of our brands is a significant milestone and demonstrates we have now moved, earlier than originally planned, into the next stage of our development. Our focus is on growth.”

Like-for-like sales rose 5% in the half-year, while online sales improved by 34% and the company added 37 new stores. It now has 1,508 shops in 46 countries, including 205 Coast, 250 Oasis and 307 Warehouse outlets in the UK.

Mosaic, which owed an estimated £400 million to the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, was put into administration but the brands were immediately sold to a new company majority owned by Kaupthing and existing management. The move helped save around 8,700 jobs.

Aurora has already consolidated distribution operations from three sites into one, migrated all four brands to a single IT platform and completed a cost reduction programme.

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