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Selfridges profits fell 10 percent pre-Covid, but sales rose

By Huw Hughes

Jan. 21, 2021

Business

Selfridges has reported a 10 percent drop in operating profit to 88 million pounds for the year ending 2 February 2020, just before the pandemic took a grip on the UK’s retail industry.

Sales during the period increased 7 percent to 1.97 billion pounds, the company revealed in an update on Thursday.

It came amid “a challenging retail backdrop and a significant investment across the business”.

That included the launch of a 22,000 square foot toy destination in London, an expanded luxury Accessories Hall in Manchester, and investment across all customer digital channels, including digital stock systems.

Selfridges says online performance ‘strong’ over Christmas

Like retailers across the country, Selfridges was forced to close its stores for months at a time in 2020. In July, the company announced it would be cutting its workforce by 14 percent - or by around 450 roles - to help it weather the storm.

While the company hasn’t yet released figures for the 2020 fiscal year, managing director Anne Pitcher described it as an “exceptionally difficult” period, but said the company entered it “in a strong position” thanks to its 2019 financial performance.

“We have remained agile and flexible all while delivering the very best experience, destination and products for our customers within the guidelines set by the government,” Pitcher said in a statement. “We are pleased with the growth in digital this year and our ability to deliver to over 130 countries has helped offset the lack of international travel.”

As for Christmas trading, the company said it saw a “strong digital performance” though in-store was “challenging”, as expected.

Looking forward, Pitcher said “recovery will be slow”, with sales this year forecast to be “significantly less” than they were in 2019. However, she added: “Selfridges is set up for a long, sustainable future.”

Photo credit: Selfridges