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Wellington Boots on the Rise Stateside as Hunter Turns Record Profit

Hunter Boots and its iconic Wellington rain boots have always been a staple of the British Isles but, as its fiscal 2018 sales results demonstrate, the brand is beginning to grow its business internationally, too.

Last year, Hunter Boots saw EBITDA improve by 54 percent year over year, through its FY18 ended Dec. 29, 2018. This was record growth for the company, and led to a total 10.6 million pounds ($13.45 million) in adjusted EBITDA for the year.

Sales in the U.S. grew by 13 percent across all channels in FY18 compared to the previous period, which marks sizable growth considering the United States is already Hunter’s largest market. Sales in Asia also jumped up 13 percent in FY18, led largely by Japan at 25 percent year-over-year growth. Hunter said its strong performance in the Asia Pacific region was a continued benefit of “taking direct control of its activities in the region in 2016.”

Vincent Wauters, the CEO of Hunter Boots LTD., joined the company in 2016 and has since led it on a journey back to profitability and international relevance. Wauters called 2018 a “landmark year” for Hunter Boots and the company’s strategic vision.

“We have shown continued growth across key markets and channels, with anchors in North America, Europe and Asia,” Wauters said in an email to Sourcing Journal. “Our global e-commerce is thriving, we have an established multi-channel distribution platform and we have successfully diversified our product offering.”

Wauters further explained that the executive team had spent the last few years developing Hunter into a “global lifestyle brand” that can boast steady international growth and “strong operational leverage.”

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Hunter’s 2018 results appear to be proof of movement in the right direction—sales from other regions outside of key markets improved 142 percent compared to the previous year. The company’s global search rate also rose by 50 percent—which Hunter credits to a number of successful collaborations.

However, Hunter’s collaborative efforts were not without their issues. In April of 2018, Hunter and Target launched a collaboration that was fraught with supply and delivery issues due to unforeseen demand.

Still, the brand saw persistent e-commerce growth in 2018. Online revenue grew by 19 percent, year-over-year, and now accounts for 28 percent of the brand’s total sales, further diversifying its revenue streams. Hunter has worked to diversify its product assortment, too, showing strong growth in its bag and apparel categories. Outside of footwear, Hunter’s full-priced sales grew by more than 50 percent compared to 2017.

“As the results from 2018 demonstrate, with record revenues and increased profits in the context of a challenging retail environment, the brand is in outstanding health,” Wauters concluded. “We are excited with our progress and look forward to continuing to build the Hunter brand and business in 2019, the year in which we introduce strategic collaborations with brands as diverse as Stella McCartney and Peppa Pig. We are delivering against our long-term plan and vision to fulfill the brand’s very significant global potential.”