Online retailer Boohoo lifts outlook after strong holiday season

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A woman poses with a smartphone showing the Boohoo app in front of the Boohoo logo on display in this illustration

(Reuters) - Retailer Boohoo raised its annual revenue target on Thursday after a strong Christmas holiday season, with the tightening of UK coronavirus curbs again pushing households to shop more online.

The retailer also said it was investigating some suppliers, having banned a total of 64 so far, and was identifying alternative "ethical" partners as it works to rebuild its name following an investigation last year into failings by the company related to working conditions and low pay in its supply chain.

The British fashion group, home to brands including PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal and MissPap, expects revenue growth of 36% to 38% for the financial year ending Feb. 28, above the already upgraded forecast of 28%-32%.

Rival ASOS, or As Seen On Screen, also raised its forecast earlier this week as trading during the holiday season exceeded its expectations.

While more conventional retailers have struggled with a collapse in footfall over the past year, the crisis has only added to the gains made by Boohoo and other e-commerce players as people stuck at home switch to shopping online.

Launched in 2006 by billionaire Mahmud Kamani and businesswoman Carol Kane, Boohoo has targeted millennials and other younger generations happy to shop on their phones rather than in store.

Boohoo, whose share price has soared since its 2014 listing, lagged ASOS on market performance last year following a damaging media report in July about factory working conditions in the English city of Leicester. It laid out steps in September to tackle the many failings an independent review identified in its supply chain.

"The Group believes it is making excellent progress as it works to implement the Review's recommendations," Boohoo said.

"Alternative ethical suppliers are being identified as the Group reviews its supply chain across the UK and internationally."

The company flagged a small cost headwind due to higher distribution and administrative costs after the UK officially exited the European Union.

It was also finalising an extension of UK warehousing capacity with a new site to open in April, which will create up to 1,000 jobs.

(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)