Dr. Martens sold 11.1 million pairs of shoes during its last fiscal year. Now the British heritage brand is opening new stores during the pandemic as many fashion players close locations.
Dr. Martens today released strong results for the year ended March 31 — when revenues shot up 48% to 672.2 million pounds, or $875 million at current exchange. Underlying EBITDA rose by 93% to 164.4 million pounds, or $214 million, while operating profit more than doubled.
“If you have great product, people will come to you,” CEO Kenny Wilson told FN following the release. “We’re a brand that people trust because of its authentic nature and history.”
While the results reflect the selling period before the pandemic took hold in the U.S. and Europe, Wilson is confident the brand’s strategy is helping it weather the coronavirus storm.
“If you take our web and stores combined, we’ve managed to maintain a growing business. Speed and agility have been so important — and also putting people first,” he said. “When we met with our suppliers, we didn’t cancel a single pair of boots or shoes, we paid all our landlords on time, and we tried to take a long-term view.”
Wilson noted that some employees have returned to the London headquarters and are adhering to social distancing and health guidelines. “We communicated from the first week that we wanted to [focus on] everyone’s safety,” he said.
Amid the pandemic shakeout, direct-to-consumer continues to fuel business at Dr. Martens, with revenues up 51% during the reported period, and momentum continuing to build online.
But brick-and-mortar is top of mind too. As many fashion players scale back on store openings, Dr. Martens is forging ahead after opening 16 stores, including five in the U.S. market, during the last fiscal year.
Overall, revenues were up 57% in the Americas, while the wholesale business, driven by strong partnerships with retailers like Journeys, grew by 65% during the period.
The company went ahead with two big US debuts during the pandemic, in Houston and Miami. “We feel very confident about North America generally. We still believe there’s opportunity for store expansion and we’re still significantly under-penetrated,” Wilson said.
The executive acknowledged that the retail and the wholesale business on the coasts, specifically in New York, has been impacted in recent months.
On the product front, Dr. Marten’s iconic 1460 boot, which was crowned FN’s shoe of the year in 2019, continues to be the company’s most popular item. The boot, launched 60 years ago, is at the center of 12 different buzzed-about collaborations this year, and Dr. Martens last month teamed up with the estate of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The 1460 also has gotten attention-grabbing updates with waterproof versions and more embellished styles.
Wilson also said the sandal category has experienced a “major breakthrough.”
Overall, the CEO is bullish about the future. “It’s going to be a different and volatile period but we feel like we’ve got a very strong brand. We know our products are working. We’re in a fortunate position we’ve got enough liquidity to invest,” Wilson said. “We believe our strategic direction is right.”