Hugo Boss (BOSSY) did little to assuage the concerns of investors over its sales decline, after management reported Tuesday the group had been hit by a difficult global market environment during the first quarter.
Gross profits were down as a result of discounting strategies employed in Asia and the U.S., while operating costs were driven higher by increased expansion of the store portfolio as well as higher digital investment, leading Ebitda to fall by 29% in the first quarter.
In response to market conditions the group has altered its pricing strategy in China and the U.S., with Chinese prices reduced by up to 20%. Management have cut investment in the store portfolio and launched a review of an unspecified number of non-performing outlets that will be concluded over the coming months.
After acknowledging that the group still has a long way to go before it will have turned a corner, CFO Mark Langer said, "We are working hard on maximizing the consistency of our global brand and price positioning, and on digitizing our business model, thus paving the way for sustainable growth in the next few years."
Management also reiterated earlier guidance suggesting that sales were expected to rise by a low-mid single digit number in 2016. Elaborating further on this, the announcement detailed a projection that the 2016 sales growth would probably be accompanied a low-double-digit reduction in Ebitda for the full year as lower selling prices and higher costs bite into profits.
The shares responded to the update in a volatile manner, spending much of Tuesday morning seesawing from one side of the break-even line to the other, as investors digested the announcement.
So far this year the stock is down by 26%, while on a 12-month horizon it is down by nearly 50%, after a string of profit warnings and a flurry of high-level departures drove a deterioration of investor sentiment toward the group.