The Pentland Group's investments in emerging markets fueled a sales increase of 14.5 percent to £1,298 million (€1,439m-$2,084m) for the company last year. Several of Pentland's brands moved further into Asian and Latin American markets, leading to a growth of 28 percent in the group's wholesale sales in these two regions.
Although the Pentland Group is affected by the tough economic situation in some markets, its operating profit still jumped by 38.5 percent to £110 million (€121.9m-$176.6m). Its net assets climbed by 13.5 percent to £453 million (€502.1m-$727.4m).
Pentland owns Speedo, Ellesse, Kangaroos, Mitre, Berghaus, and Red or Dead, as well as smaller brands from Brasher to Boxfresh and Prostar. It holds global licenses for Lacoste and Ted Baker footwear, and a U.K. license for Kickers. Pentland also has investments in Hunter Boot and Gio Goi, among others.
Pentland's share of 57 percent in JD Sports Fashion, the leading British sports lifestyle retailer, strongly contributed to the group's performance last year. As detailed in our last issue, the steady expansion of this retailer has enabled it to acquire two other sports retailers since the start of this year, in Ireland and in Spain.
Speedo was among the Pentland brands that spread rapidly in emerging markets last year. Its sales in China soared by 63 percent after it launched a swimwear range designed especially for Chinese consumers. In Europe, Speedo's growth was supported by a new distributor in Spain, Dicaltex, and another partner in Russia. Among the highlights for the brand last year was the launch of the new body-shaping Sculpture range for women.
In the coming years, Speedo's business in emerging markets could be further strengthened through a new partnership in India. The brand has been distributed in the country for several years by Pantaloon Retail India Limited (PRIL), which belongs to the Future Group. The same group owns Planet Sports, the leading sports retailer in India, which provided a strong distribution platform for Speedo. However, Pentland confirmed that it had switched a few weeks ago to a licensing deal with Page Industries, a textile manufacturer from Bangalore that has distinguished itself as the successful Indian licensee of Jockey, the American brand of underwear.
Berghaus, the group's British outdoor brand, also moved ahead in Asia last year, with strong progress in Japan, China and South Korea, as well as a launch in Taiwan through Eccezione. This leading Taiwanese outdoor and travel company has scores of retail outlets under the Hilltop banner.
Berghaus also continued to perform well in the U.K. Investments included setting up the MtnHaus development team, which brings together strong assets in design and technology. Brasher, the Pentland Group's outdoor footwear brand, achieved record sales last year.
While Pentland declined to reveal the share of its sales in Asia, the group is evidently stepping up its investments in this region. Along with Latin America, Asia drove the robust performance of Lacoste Footwear last year. Kangaroos was launched in China, with the opening of 15 retail sites, and Ellesse will be introduced in the country later this year, under an unknown arrangement.
Separately, Pentland has moved ahead with the integration of Prostar, the English team wear company acquired last year by Mitre, the group's football brand. The two companies now share the same office and warehouse, and together sell a more complete offer of team sports products.