River Island owners shun dividends again after another year of mixed results

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River Island

River Island has recorded a rise in sales in its full-year report, although it still endured a dip in profits.

For the year ending December 31, sales went up by four per cent from £932.7 million to £970.5 million, which was boosted by a 21 per cent rise in online and mobile sales.

However, operating profit dipped seven per cent from £145.8 million to £135.7 million.

As a result, the  family owners of the fashion retailer have decided not to take a dividend for the second year in a row, preferring to invest in further boosting its online shopping services by   tripling the number of its IT and digital roles in the UK.

At the same time, the want to open more stores and hire more buying, merchandising and design staff.

The Lewis family, of which there are three family members on the board, paid itself £180 million in 2013 and 2014 but has chosen not to take a dividend for 2015 or 2016.

“Overall, I think the industry had a challenging year. The overall market was flat and under-39-market was in decline so for our turnover to be where it was is pretty stable,” chief executive Ben Lewis said.

“We want to position ourselves as a digital leader and maintain our prestige so we are building our team extensively,” he added.

“We are doubling the size of our innovation hub in Shoreditch to attract the best talent in the area and accommodate them.”

River Island opened five stores in the last month alone, bringing its total store portfolio to around 250 stores.

Looking ahead, Lewis said he remained confident in his company’s strategy despite the challenges that would arise in trends and technology.

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