Iconic footwear brand Dr. Martens (DOCS) stomped in with better than expected full year profits as its direct to consumer (DTC) business delivered stellar growth and boosted margins, triggering a 27% share price rebound to 274.4p.
The North London-based boot specialist also insisted its brand is ‘stronger than ever’ as it upgraded growth guidance for the new financial year with management confident forthcoming price increases can offset the impact of cost inflation.
ON THE FRONT FOOT
Despite significant supply disruption, Dr. Martens’ results for the year to March 2022 revealed an 18% surge in revenue to £908.3 million and EBITDA ahead by the same percentage to a forecast-beating £263 million.
Pre-tax profit before one-off IPO costs stepped up by an impressive 43% to £214.3 million.
The retailer’s gross margin grew 2.8 percentage points to 63.7% last year as DTC sales increased to 49% of the overall sales mix.
Dr. Martens said its bricks and mortar retail business enjoyed a ‘very good recovery where Covid-19 restrictions were lifted’ with sales up 86%, while wholesale revenues were 5% higher.
For the year to March 2023, the FTSE 250 boot seller now expects to generate high-teens revenue growth due to ‘price increases which take effect from Autumn/Winter 2022 and our expectations for volume growth remaining unchanged. In line with our strategic operating model, we continue to expect price to offset inflation through the profit and loss account.’
Dr. Martens stressed that its wholesale order book is ‘strong, and already confirmed at 85% of our full year expectation’, while DTC trading since the start of the new financial year has ‘continued in line with our expectations’.
DTC IS DELIVERING
‘Today’s strong results have been driven by our proven DTC-first strategy and continue to build upon our track record of volume-led growth,’ enthused CEO Kenny Wilson (pictured below).
‘When we listed, we committed to deliver high-teens revenue growth, and today we are pleased to report 22% constant currency growth and EBITDA ahead of market expectations. Our results were achieved against unprecedented Covid-19 disruption in our supply chain, which our teams navigated with flexibility and dedication.’
GLOBAL GROWTH POTENTIAL
Last year, Dr. Martens enjoyed a ‘very strong performance’ in the Americas and EMEA, with revenue up 29% and 19% respectively, although its smallest region, APAC, was heavily impacted by Covid-19 restrictions in China and Japan, sending revenue down 10% to £127.1 million.
Wilson insisted Dr. Martens’ brand is ‘stronger than ever, with significant growth in awareness, familiarity and recent purchase. Dr. Martens remains incredibly underpenetrated globally, giving us conviction in our future growth ambition.’
Accordingly, the retailer has raised its 2023 new own store opening guidance from 20-to-25 stores to 25-to-35 stores, with the bulk of the guidance increase due to its accelerated store rollout in the USA.
THE EXPERT’S TAKE
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said Dr. Martens’ focus on selling direct to consumers ‘seems to be paying off – supporting margins and giving the company greater control over its destiny.
‘Perhaps most significantly Dr. Martens looks set to put one foot in front of the other by following up with more meaningful growth in its current financial year.
‘The brand’s appeal clearly still resonates with people and customer loyalty could be an absolute godsend at a time when household budgets are tight.
‘In the current environment it is impressive to see a consumer-facing company like Dr Martens accelerating growth plans though it is worth pointing out the shares still have several steps to take to reclaim the price they listed at in their IPO last January.’