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Department Stores

Selfridges endures ‘most difficult year’ thanks to 2019 performance

Operating profits had fallen 10% even before the pandemic began

Selfridges has endured the “most difficult year” in its 113-year history, but was able to weather the storm.

The chain of luxury department stores was reportedly kept afloat through growing sales in 2019 and investing in e-commerce.

Anne Pitcher, managing director at the group, confirmed to the Times that the business’ success in 2019 “allowed us to be so resilient in 2020” as online sales also partly offset store closures.

The year to February 2020 saw Selfridges sales increase 7% to £1.97bn, but operating profits fell 10% to £88m for the same period.

Moreover, annual pre-tax profits fell to £34m from £98m, even before the pandemic had taken place, due to new accounting rules of leases.

However, the group did manage to open a toy store and a cinema in its store in Oxford Street, while simultaneously refurbishing its accessories hall at Manchester Trafford.

Still, the impact of these developments was cut short by the Covid-19 crisis that continues to cause havoc to the firm’s physical operations.

Pitcher added that footfall across its four stores would be “depressed for the rest of the year” as the group relies so heavily on “people returning to work and travel resuming”.

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