Accent Group's 'VIP, Virtual, Vertical' strategy is paying off, the business has reported in its first half trading results. 

In VIP, the brand grew its loyalty database to 7.6 million contactable customers - an increase of 800,000 for the half.  

Meanwhile, virtual sales are at $4.3 million in the YTD in FY21 (29 June 20 - 31 January 21) with a run rate of $100,000 per week from a standing start in April. 

And in the final pillar, sales of vertical products were up 47.5% on the prior year to $9.7 million in the half. 

Reflecting on the results, CEO Daniel Agostinelli thanked the business' partners in helping them achieve record results. 

"The Group's unrelenting focus on VIP, Vertical and Virtual along with our integrated digital and store operating model has delivered another record profit driven through strong sales and gross profit margin. 

"I would like to thank our suppliers, landlords, and team for their efforts and performance throughout the first half and our customers for their continued loyalty," he said. 

Overall, Accent's digital sales grew by 110% in the half to represent 22.3% of total sales, with the business fulfilling 100% more orders than it did in the first half of FY20. 

The business also delivered record performance over the Black Friday weekend, reporting $8.2 million in sales for the weekend. 

The retailer's endless aisle grew by 92% compared to H1 FY20, while site traffic also jumped up 53.4%. 

Agostinelli added that being able to quickly adapt to the trading conditions helped the business deliver strong digital sales. 

"The team continued to adapt and accelerate the business, delivering strong execution and sales through the key cyber events in November and the Christmas trading period," he said. 

Meanwhile, in the retail side of the business, Accent opened 50 new stores and closed five where sustainable rental agreements could be reached in the half.  

Across the brands, stand out performers were Hype DC, Skechers, Platypus and Subtype, while The Athletes Foot experienced strong growth in sales and gross margin - driven by consumer demand for its categories as well as the Back To School sales in December.

Amongst its new retail brands Accent reports that Pivot now has six stores trading and is performing to expectations; The Trybe has 10 stores and experienced double-digit comp growth in the half; and, Stylerunner's Armadale store is performing ahead of expectations. 

Overall, Accent reported a 6.6% increase in total sales to $541.3 million for the period, while like for like sales were up 2.7% for H1. 

The retailer also delivered an EBITDA of $97.5 million - up 44% on the prior year, while NPAT was up 57.3% to $52.8 million for the half. 

Gross margin was up 140 basis points to 58.1% compared to 56.7% in H1 FY20. 

Accent closed out the half operating 565 stores and had cash on hand of $72.8 million. 

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