Michael Hill to gradually reopen stores from Saturday

Michael Hill to gradually reopen stores from Saturday

Jewellery retailer Michael Hill (ASX: MHJ) will open nearly 100 of its stores in Australia this weekend with an aim to progressively open the remainder during May.

But not all Michael Hill employees will be going back to work; the company has decided to permanently close five stores in Australia, three in New Zealand and one in Canada.

The rollout of store openings in Australia is based on how individual states have decided to relax COVID-19 restrictions, but Michael Hill says it expects every store in the country will be reopened by early June.

25 stores in New Zealand will open on Saturday, with the balance planned to follow across the coming two weeks.

The group's Canadian portfolio currently remains closed, but there are plans to commence the progressive reopening of stores in late May.

Michael Hill says during the shutdown it has seen a "significant boost" in online sales, with digital sales in the last three weeks outperforming the prior record digital sales week from Christmas 2019.

This is primarily the result of the company deploying a range of digital initiatives such as virtual appointments, a new online video hub, a fresh online storefront, chat functionality on the website, an improved Instagram feed and a WeChat store.

The group's loyalty program has also seen memberships increase to over 100,000 members. Michael Hill's loyalty revenue now represents 42 per cent of total e-commerce revenue.

"The surge in our digital sales signals a notable shift in consumer behaviour in the jewellery category," says Michael Hill CEO Daniel Bracken.

"We have been quick to respond and harness this opportunity, with the implementation of a number of digital initiatives to continue to attract new customers and maintain the momentum.

"As we reopen stores, we are placing the utmost importance on the safety of our employees and customers. We look forward to enabling our customers to celebrate their love, style their wardrobe and find their memorable gift in a safe store environment as we all navigate through these unprecedented times."

Updated at 9:18am AEST on 15 May 2020.

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