From Friday 15 May the remainder of Premier Investments' (ASX: PMV) Australian stores including Smiggle, Portmans, Just Jeans, Peter Alexander, Jay Jays, Jacqui E, and Dotti will reopen.
The company had already reopened all of its Queensland and Northern Territory stores (except airports and some CBD stores) on Thursday 7 May following government direction in those jurisdictions.
Premier chairman Solomon Lew congratulated the Federal Government's handling of the crisis, which he says will enable retail employees to return to a safe work environment.
"The Prime Minister's announcement on Friday 8 May 2020 of the 3 Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia is an extraordinary achievement when compared to the rest of the world, which will support over a million Australian retail employees safely returning to work," Lew said.
COVIDSafe safety measures will be in place for the reopening of stores including social distancing, good hygiene practices and frequent cleaning of stores.
Premier's stores in New Zealand will reopen from Thursday 14 May, while Smiggle stores in the UK and Ireland will remain closed until 1 June and 29 June respectively.
In Singapore, Smiggle stores will remain closed until at least 1 June 2020, in Malaysia stores re-opened already on 4 May, and in Hong Kong all Smiggle stores are currently operating.
Sales surge online
The extended store sales have significantly impacted Premier's global sales, with total sales down 74 per cent for the six weeks to 6 May 2020.
There is a silver lining for Premier though: online sales have surged by 99 per cent.
In Australia, Premier's largest online brand Peter Alexander broke its own weekly records during the pandemic period, with online sales up 285 per cent.
Significantly, during the week ended 2 May 2020, Peter Alexander's Australian online sales alone were up 18 per cent on last year's total sales across both online and its entire 122 store and concession network in Australia.
Premier's road ahead
Looking forward Premier says it will work with shopping centre landlords to rejuvenate the economy.
The retail giant was very vocal about its intention to pay no rent globally during the period of forced closures.
Now, PMV says it intends on paying rent in arrears for all stores at a gross percentage of sales.
"Premier looks forward to working with shopping centre landlords to help bring the economy back to life," says Premier Investments.
"As part of this critical process, it is incumbent on those landlords to demonstrate and announce the actions they are taking to ensure a healthy and safe environment for our employees and customers to confidently return to shops."
The company says it is well placed to begin recovery, with a consolidated cash position of $256.2 million at 1 May 2020, and access to undrawn facilities of $91.8 million.
"This strength is no accident and is a function of our long-standing successful strategies that ensure we are in the strongest possible position to answer all the challenges of the global health and economic crisis," says Premier.
"However, no one can reliably predict the pace and timing of the upcoming phase of economic recovery.
"In this recovery period, Premier Retail's sales and margin by store, by country, by brand and by region are highly uncertain and will be dictated predominantly by the manner in which consumers respond to the return of instore shopping in their local communities, bound by strict social distancing rules and health guidelines."
As such, Premier says it cannot forecast the extent of the impact on 2H20 earnings until the company has actualised the result.
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