Selfridges gets through 2020 in good shape, pre-pandemic sales rose
Selfridges weathered the 2020 storm, despite enduring the toughest retail year in decades. That’s according to company chief Anne Pitcher who admitted to The Times that it was the “most difficult” period in its 113 years in existence.
No other details about the 2020/21 trading figures were available from the company that’s due to file its latest set of results (for the 12 months to February 2020) by the end of this month.
But it’s clear that the period from March 2020 was a tough one for the firm as its stores were forced to close for months on end (and are again closed due to the latest UK lockdown). Last summer the company was forced to announce 450 job cuts as it said its recovery from the pandemic would be slow, with sales in the year forecast to be significantly less than they were in 2019.
Yet MD Anne Pitcher said that 2019’s success “allowed us to be so resilient in 2020” and that online sales partly made up for lost physical trading.
However, with Selfridges stores being located in city centres, she expects footfall to remain muted for some time, even when stores reopen. City centres — and especially London’s West End — have been devastated in the last year with the international and domestic tourists, plus office workers, that usually make up the majority of shoppers being thin on the ground.
Meanwhile the newspaper reported that the 2019/20 financial year, saw a 7% sales increase as turnover hit £1.97 billion. But despite the increase, operating profits dropped by as much as 10% to £88 million and pre-tax profits plunged to £34 million from £98 million.
That was partly linked to new accounting rules around leases but also because of heavy investment on the part of the business.
The company has been investing not only in the shopping areas of its stores but in added attractions such as the cinema that has been opened as part of its Oxford Street flagship.
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