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Supergroup issues profits warning after Superdry’s tough January

Julian Dunkerton, chief executive of Supergroup, said: ‘Retail sales during the quarter have been mixed, with a challenging last three weeks of January.’

The company behind the Superdry brand has issued a warning on profits just four weeks after telling investors the business had enjoyed a “solid Christmas” with “an improving sales trend”.

Supergroup issued a fresh trading update on Wednesday saying its sales for the last three weeks of January were lower than anticipated, warning investors its full-year profits are likely only to scrape in at the lower end of City expectations. Analysts had been expecting profits of between £50m and £54m.

Analysts said the two trading updates implied Supergroup’s comparable sales had been up 5.8% — and rising — for last nine weeks of 2011, but had then fallen by about 3.5% during the first four weeks of January.

The shares fell 15% to at 596p in early trading. The company quickly became a stock market darling after floating in March 2010 at 500p, sending the share price to £18.20 within a year before a series of reverses.

The company had been described by some as a UK version of Abercrombie & Fitch, though critics have suggested the business was heavily dependent on branded hoodies and risked falling foul of fast-changing fashions.

Julian Dunkerton, chief executive of Supergroup, said: “Retail sales during the quarter have been mixed, with a challenging last three weeks of January.”

Freddie George, an analyst at Seymour Pierce, cut his pretax profit forecast for Supergroup by £2m to £52m. He insisted the stock — which divides opinion across the City — was undervalued.

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