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Michael Hill Sales Slip Amid March Shutdown

Figure was up 3.1% for first nine weeks prior to coronavirus closures.
Apr 20, 2020 8:04 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Michael Hill’s sales fell 12% in the third fiscal quarter as stores closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Group revenue dropped to AUD 105.1 million ($66.8 million) in the three months ending March 31, the jeweler reported last week. The company was forced to close all its retail locations in Canada on March 20, and shut stores in Australia and New Zealand a few days later. Same-store sales — at branches open for at least a year — slid 11% during the period.

Same-store sales in Australia fell 10% to AUD 56.8 million ($36.2 million), while those in New Zealand dropped 8% to NZD 23.1 million ($14 million). Same-store sales in Canada plunged 21% to CAD 20.6 million ($14.7 million).

However, the company’s sales had improved in January and February prior to the shutdown, the retailer noted. Same-store sales grew 3.1% in the first nine weeks of the year compared to the same period the year before, while those in Australia increased 1.8%. Same-store sales in New Zealand grew 3.5% in January and February. Canada’s same-store sales slipped 1% for the period.

The company’s e-commerce sales increased 49% during the quarter, representing 3.6% of the group’s proceeds for the period. Michael Hill is focused on improving online sales, and is trialing a number of new initiatives to draw in customers, including an interactive digital catalog and direct selling, it said.

“The crisis has afforded us the ability to really focus on our digital business, and we will emerge with a much bigger and stronger offering,” Michael Hill CEO Daniel Bracken observed.

Total group revenue for the first nine months of the fiscal year rose 0.6% to AUD 432 million ($275 million), while same-store sales for the period grew 1.5% to AUD 418.8 million ($266.6 million).

Additionally, the jeweler plans to defer payment of its interim dividend for six months, and reduce fees for board members by 50% for the remainder of the fiscal year in order to save money.

Michael Hill has completed the remediation payments it owed to its existing employees, but will temporarily halt repayment to workers no longer with the company, it said.

The group closed three stores in Australia during the quarter, bringing the total number of outlets to 301 on March 29, including one remaining Emma and Roe store.

Image: A Michael Hill store in Queensland, Australia. (Shutterstock)
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Tags: Coronavirus, Daniel Bracken, Emma and Roe, Michael Hill, Rapaport News
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