Boodles' sales pick up after big plunge in pandemic year
Luxury jeweller Boodles — like its peers in the wider watches and jewellery sector — has bounced back from the pandemic but is concerned that the latest Covid restrictions in Britain might dent its performance this festive season.
The 223-year-old family-owned business has filed its accounts for the year to the end of this February at Companies House and reported turnover falling to £49.5 million from the £74 million it saw in the previous 12 months.
Gross profit fell to £23.9 million from £35.9 million and operating profit was down to £5.3 million from £7.2 million. The company's profit after tax narrowed to £4.2 million from £5.2 million in the previous year. But it was encouraging that it remained in profit as so many companies swung to losses during the first year of the pandemic.
The sales and profits falls are no surprise given the enforced closure of its stores for multiple months during the year and the lack of dressy social events at which people could wear its products.
In fact, its stores were closed for six out of the 12 months due to lockdowns, but even when they were shut, it said some business was conducted remotely or on location in customers’ homes.
The company also said that its administrative expenses were substantially lower last year and the cancellation of business rates for the year represented a saving of around £1.4 million. It also made use of the furlough scheme too during the first lockdown in 2020, but less so in subsequent lockdowns.
It added that business has bounced back strongly since the year end and since the final full lockdown came to a close in May of this year.
As well as dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, the business also boosted its sustainability efforts in the past year and said that the period was actually "a turning point" in its approach to sustainability. It was an early signatory to the Walpole Sustainability Manifesto in April last year.
As mentioned, the firm, whose product marketing has been fronted by Amber and Yasmin Le Bon, has been bouncing back this year with MD Michael Wainwright saying pent-up demand and travel restrictions have boosted sales to domestic customers, rather than the tourists who would normally make up a big chunk of sales.
Transaction numbers have been rising slightly, but the company remains concerned about footfall in the face of the new Omicron variant.
With five of its 10 stores located in central London, any move by consumers to avoid the capital could hit Boodles hard. There have been reports already that the financial district – the City, as it’s known – is already seeing significantly lower footfall. The company has one of its stores there at the Royal Exchange. Other London locations are in Bond Street, Sloane Street, Harrods, and The Savoy hotel.
But its other stores outside of London are also focused on city centres, which could be a problem. They’re in Dublin, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, and Chester.
Wainwright told the Standard newspaper after the results were filed: “We are hoping the wheels are not going to come off in the next two weeks in the all important build-up to Christmas following the introduction of Plan B.”
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