Specialty Fashion Group is putting all its resources into plus-size stores City Chic — and its shares are flying.

The retailer (ASX:SFH) today confirmed its sale of the Millers, Katies, Crossroads, Autograph and Rivers businesses to fellow listed rag trader Noni B (ASX:NBL).

The company is now left with City Chic, the plus size (size 14+) chain, that has embraced multi-channel retailing, with online now representing more than a third of sales.

Speciality Fashion today posted its annual results, showing a loss of $7 million, reflecting adjustments associated with the divestment, and a 6.5 per cent drop in revenue to $752 million.

However, City Chic sales revenue was up 5.5 per cent to $132 million. Comparable sales growth was 13 per cent — a standout result in a weak retail market.

The shares gained 10 per cent to a year-high of $1.10 in early Tuesday trade. The stock has made a seven-fold gain this year, climbing from around 13c in December.

In Australia, bricks and mortar retailers have been hit by an increasingly highly competitive market with digital players making in-roads into market share and consumer sentiment keeping spending down.

>> READ: Stockhead’s guide to ASX-listed fashion retailers

Noni B, which becomes one of the largest women’s fashion retailers in Australia, paid $31 million cash for Millers, Katies, Crossroads, Autograph and Rivers.

Specialty Fashion will use the money of sale proceeds to pay down debt.

Specialty Fashion Group (ASX:SFH) shares have risen sharply this year.
Specialty Fashion Group (ASX:SFH) shares have risen sharply this year.

Specialty Fashion Chairman, Anne McDonald, says the sale marks a new beginning focused wholly on City Chic’s strategic priorities and growth.

“City Chic has effectively embraced the forces disrupting retail and, with online sales of 37 per cent is one of Australia’s most cohesive and successful multi-channel retailers,” she says.

“With the right corporate and capital structure now in place, City Chic is well positioned to further strengthen its customer-led approach and execute its strategy to become a global brand.”

City Chic has 94 stores in Australia and another 13 Myer concessions.

The company now has cash of $16.1 million compared to $8.3 million net debt last year.

City Chic in numbers:

Source: Specialty Fashion Group