Premier Investments, owner of kids’ stationery brand Smiggle, said the coronavirus pandemic is now impacting trade across every brand in its portfolio. This comes after posting record sales and earnings in the first half of FY20, despite the uncertainty of Brexit impacting Smiggle sales in the UK.
Premier reported a 7.6% increase in first-half retail sales year on year, to $732.1 million, and a 10.7% increase in retail earnings before interest and tax, to $126.1 million. The group declared a record interim dividend of 34 cents per share.
Smiggle lifted global sales, including sales from its new wholesale division, by 14.2% to deliver record revenue of $193.7m for the half.
The pandemic and strict self-isolation measures to contain the spread have already had an impact on trade in the second half. The company said that Smiggle sales have “deteriorated significantly” in the UK and Ireland, and “severely disrupted” in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
Premier CEO Mark McInnes warned there could be widespread store closures if landlords do not start supporting their tenants by renegotiating rents. He also advised the company was well positioned to meet a shift to online shopping should customers choose to do so.
However, since this statement was issued, following UK government orders, Smiggle UK & Republic of Ireland have temporarily closed both their physical and online stores until further notice.