The U.K.-based brand of street- and activewear is expanding its use of social media “influencers” to drive sales ahead of the launch of its autumn/winter collection. Its action in this area led last year to a 14 percent increase to 3.2 million in the number of followers on social media through improved content and frequency of engagement.

The company, which already tested the approach last winter, said it will use “higher profile influencers with an authentic style to promote Superdry, enhancing the brand and reaching new audiences.” It wants to upgrade the brand’s image as it has put an end to persistent discounting, which has negatively impacted sales, while supporting margins to some extent.

A return to full pricing, with only two end-season sales and a “Black Friday” event is being mentioned as a priority along with a review of e-commerce operations and strategies for the U.S. and Chinese markets.

Aiming for more “design-led” collections, Superdry is also restructuring its design and marketing functions, forming integrated teams that will look after collections rather than product categories. It said that it is “up-weighting” the marketing department’s headcount to make better use of its budget.

For the financial year ended on April 25, Superdry reported a pre-tax loss of £166.9 million (€182m-$213m) compared with £89.3 million a year earlier as revenues fell by 19.2 percent to £704.4 million (€767m-$900m), largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The gross margin dropped by 1.5 percentage points to a still honorable level of 53.6 percent. The company took a £136.8 million (€149.3m-$174.8m) impairment charge on the value of its stores, but it had similar extraordinary charges in the previous year.

The management said it expects operating costs to fall substantially in the current fiscal year follow successful rent renegotiations, efficiency savings in logistics, lower bad debt expenses and overhead savings in discretionary spending and payroll. The company is among the numerous promoters of lower business rates being applied by the British government to physical stores.

Superdry’s wholesale revenues are forecast to improve from current levels through more in-season sales, with the European franchisees’ sales recovering strongly on a same store basis. The timing of deliveries for spring/summer forward orders is due to be normalized.

In the 20 weeks until Sept. 12, wholesale revenues and revenues from the company’s stores were down by 35.9 percent and 48.3 percent, respectively, but e-commerce was up by 55.3 percent, including increases of more than 100 percent while the stores were locked down. Strong online sales should continue over the remainder of the year. Internet orders are also being fulfilled now from 31 of Superdry’s own stores, allowing the company to better clear “aged and broken lines.”