The year to March 2017 was a period of uncertainty and continuing austerity, according to Fish Brothers Group chairman Stephen Dexter in an introduction to accounts for the financial year that showed the group’s first operating loss.
Turnover rose by 3% in the year, but a profit of £356,500 in FY2016 dropped into the red in 2017 with a loss of £58,000.
Fish Brothers Group is the parent organisation for Charles Fish, which has outlets in Harlow and Chelmsford selling fashion watches from the likes of Daniel Wellington, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss and Olivia Burton alongside branded and unbranded jewellery. It also operates three franchise stores for Swarovski.
The group’s biggest company is the Fish Brothers pawnbroking business, which has 10 doors in the East end of London.
Mr Dexter said that the political uncertainty following Brexit in 2016, and the general election in early 2017 have contributed to shaky consumer confidence.
Consumer spending power is facing its biggest squeeze since the 1970s, he adds, as rising prices and stagnant wage growth have hit households.
Mr Dexter says that the rise in turnover was thanks to rising sales online for the fashion watch portfolio of Charles Fish, but points out that this is a low margin business.
The pawnbroking staple of flipping old gold has also seen squeezed margins as the gold price has settled at a range of $1100-1300.