The luxury handbag maker Mulberry is aiming to raise its profile with younger shoppers with a series of music gigs in pubs after falling to a £5m loss.
The Somerset-based company said it was investing in the UK market with events in London pubs including the Betsey Trotwood in Clerkenwell and the Prince of Peckham in south London, with free tickets to be made available through the events app Dice.
The events will combine up-and-coming bands including Yak and Rosie Lowe, DJ sets from New Found Form and Foundation.fm alongside scotch eggs, sausage rolls, pints and a quiz. A launch event attracted celebrities including Rafferty Law, son of the actor Jude Law, and the model Kelvin Bueno.
“We are engaging social networks to generate traffic in stores,” the chief executive, Thierry Andretta, said.
Mulberry’s tactics echo similar moves from the British brand Burberry, which also worked with relatively unknown bands in its Burberry Acoustic sessions to help build credibility among the under-40s.
Mulberry’s move to attract younger shoppers comes after it dived £5m into the red in the year to 30 March, from a £6.9m profit the previous year, as it took a hit from disruption at House of Fraser.
Mulberry has closed four concessions and was forced to write off £2.1m in bad debts when the ailing department store fell into administration last year.
House of Fraser has since been bought by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct and Mulberry said its remaining concessions were trading “below previous levels” and the chain’s future remained uncertain.
The handbag brand’s annual sales fell 2% to £166.3m, led by a 6% fall in the UK amid poor trading at House of Fraser and a wider slowdown in the British retail market. Online sales rose 27%.
Mulberry is set to close at least one more of its remaining 17 concessions in the department store chain when it opens a standalone store in Leeds this year.
“We want to continue to trade with them as there is a loyal customer base with House of Fraser and they are really loyal to Mulberry and continue to buy … we need to check out what [the company is] doing in terms of updating their network,” Andretta said.
He said that despite the troubles at House of Fraser, which had “materially affected” the business, Mulberry had increased UK sales by 4% in the second half of its financial year.
In the 11 weeks since the year end, total retail sales have risen 13% including a 7% rise in the UK.
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