Weak US sales put the boot into Dr Martens

Dr Martens has posted its fourth profit warning this year as its US business takes a kicking.

The boot maker said profits tumbled 55 per cent to £25.8million in the six months to the end of September, with its performance across the Atlantic being a particular sore spot.

Group sales fell by 5 per cent to £395.8million during the half-year, compared with the £418.6million in the same period of 2022.

But the major problem was the US, where sales tumbled 18 per cent to £147.7million.

The Northamptonshire firm blamed the unseasonably warm weather putting consumers off its sturdy boots, as well as a wider economic pressure on Americans.

Profit warning: Dr Martens said profits tumbled 55% to £25.8m in the six months to the end of September, with its performance across the Atlantic being a particular sore spot

Dr Martens is also feeling the fall-out of issues at its Los Angeles distribution centre, which has led to major problems with shipping products to customers throughout this year. 

Shops have also been reluctant to buy large batches of the Dr Martens’ stock – ultimately cutting into revenues.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said Dr Martens’ results suggest that the post-pandemic US consumer spending boom looks to be on ‘its last legs’. 

‘When times are good, Dr Martens has shown it is possible to make decent returns from its iconic products,’ he said.

‘But when the economic outlook is more uncertain, the company suffers from having its products priced slightly above the level at which someone wouldn’t think too hard about paying.’

Dr Martens’ chief executive officer Kenny Wilson said: ‘We are undoubtedly facing some more challenging headwinds in the US, but we are continuing to invest in the business.’

The update sent shares in the retailer tumbling 21.4 per cent, or 24.6p, to 90.2p, pushing it towards the bottom of the FTSE 250.

It also put Dr Martens at a new all-time low – a far cry from its 370p float price in January 2021.

It caused huge excitement at its London debut and was eight times oversubscribed, giving the company a market value of roughly £3.7billion.

But it has struggled to keep that momentum going with production and material costs continuing to spiral.

In 2021, Dr Martens raised the price of its classic 1460 boots by £10 to £159 a pair.

And today a pair of these boots will now set you back £169, according to the company’s website.

Its air-cushioned soles were originally developed by Munich-based Dr Maertens and Dr Funck, with their UK patent rights sold to R Griggs Group in the 1960s – and the Dr Martens brand formed. 

The clunky boots soon became synonymous with the punk era in the 1970s and they got a new lease of life two decades later with Britpop.

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