23 Nov 2011

Pumpkin Patch puts hope in low cost areas

8:10 am on 23 November 2011

Children's clothing retailer Pumpkin Patch says it will continue to cut costs and close underperforming stores to cope, in the light of continuing tough trading conditions.

The listed company lost $1.8 million last year due to the cost of closing all its US stores and reviewing its struggling UK business.

It has also been struggling with weaker demand, prompting it to cut costs.

Pumpkin Patch's incoming chief executive Neil Cowie says it's also expanding in areas requiring less investment, including its global wholesale business and launching a new website called Patch General Store.

"If you have not got your mind around being a multi-channel retailer it's going to be pretty challenging going forward," he says.

Mr Cowie says the international wholesale division is particularly appealing since it requires limited capital as local retail partners pay for shop fits and own the leases while Pumpkin Patch provides the design and its logistics expertise.

He says the board has also signalled it will bear some of the pain of cost-cutting, with chair Jane Freeman telling investors the board had agreed to reduce the director's fee pool by $130,000.

Mr Cowie says Ms Freeman felt it was appropriate to set the fees according to the present size of the business.

He says it shows the board is committed and "sends the right message to our team".