Jan 15 (Reuters) - The 2020 Christmas holiday season
presented British retailers with a unique challenge as they
navigated strict COVID-19 containment measures and prepared for
Britain's departure from the European Union.
The United Kingdom is struggling to contain a new,
fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus, while coming to terms
with Britain's new trading relationship with the European Union
following its departure from the bloc.
As a new national lockdown has begun and coronavirus
vaccines are rolled out, here is how some of Britain's retailers
are faring, with the latest news first:
The Primark-owner warned that the loss of sales from store
closures could rise to over 1.5 billion pounds ($2 billion)if
current lockdowns last until the end of March, but the group is
confident of strong growth upon reopening.
Tesco followed supermarket rivals in reporting buoyant
Christmas trading, keeping its full-year profit forecast despite
rising costs from COVID-19.
The online fashion retailer, working to rebuild its image
following a row over low pay and working conditions in its
supply chain, raised its annual revenue target after a strong
Bicycle and car products retailer posted an 11.5% jump in
sales in the last three months of 2020, benefiting from a
coronavirus-driven boom in cycling as more Britons avoided
The Premier Inn owner said that a restructuring of its
hotels and restaurants had resulted in around 1,500 job cuts,
rather than the 6,000 predicted, and that it had outperformed
the British market.
The homeware retailer performed strongly in the run-up to
Christmas - its second quarter - with sales rising 11.8% despite
COVID restrictions, but said without clarity on when it could
reopen stores the outlook was uncertain.
It warned of an annual loss and said it risked breaching its
covenants by this month-end as Britain's retail sector continued
to get hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, sending its shares nearly
3% lower in early trade.
The online fashion retailer forecast a full-year profit at
the top end of market forecasts after Christmas trading
surpassed its expectations helped by strong demand during
The British arm of German discount supermarket Lidl said
sales had increased by 17.9% in the four weeks to Dec. 27,
driven by customers buying more goods in stores and switching
away from rivals.
UK home improvement retailer raised its profit outlook as it
reported another big jump in sales, continuing to benefit from
the popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects during the
THE HUT GROUP
The Hut Group said it expects 2021 revenue to be 30%-35%
higher than 2020, underpinned by its acquisition of
Dermstore.com and a surge in online demand for its beauty
products amid coronavirus lockdowns in the UK.
Britain's biggest sportswear retailer forecast full-year
profit to be "significantly ahead" of market expectations of
about 295 million pounds ($397.1 million) thanks to strong
online sales during coronavirus lockdowns.
MARKS & SPENCER
M&S reported another big fall in sales of clothing and
homeware in the three months leading up to Christmas, as
restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus hit demand
and closed stores.
PETS AT HOME
The pet supplies retailer raised its pretax profit forecast
for the second time in five months after strong Christmas sales,
lifting its shares higher.
The pub operator said it expects pubs to be closed at least
until March as part of the national lockdown imposed earlier
this week, with some curbs to remain even after businesses are
allowed to reopen.
The supermarket group raised its annual profit forecast as
it reported strong trading in the Christmas quarter when
COVID-19 restrictions kept people eating and drinking at home.
The discount retailer reported a 22.5% jump in holiday
quarter sales and announced a special dividend, benefiting from
low prices and stores that remained open during lockdowns.
The fashion retailer reported a 58% plunge in store sales
for seven weeks that included the holiday season and warned of a
hit of up to 18 million pounds if new COVID-19 curbs continued.
MITCHELLS & BUTLERS
The company said it was exploring an equity capital raising,
as a new national lockdown shut the pub operator's sites, adding
no decision had been made yet on its timing, size or terms.
The baker and fast food retailer has slowed the sales
decline caused by the pandemic but does not expect profits to
return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 at the earliest.
The tile retailer said the new lockdown in England, which
has shut the company's stores for browsing, is expected to hit
sales and margins.
Strong sales of champagne and whole salmon helped the
supermarket group outpace bigger rivals over Christmas as
Britons made up for pandemic-related restrictions on pubs and
restaurants by treating themselves at home.
The British fashion retailer soundly beat its forecast for
Christmas sales despite COVID-19 restrictions closing stores in
November and the final shopping days of December, resulting in
another upgrade to underlying profit guidance.
The British arm of the German discount supermarket group
said sales rose 10.6% year on year in the four weeks to Dec. 24,
with a spike in demand for premium products helping to deliver a
record Christmas performance.
($1 = 0.7429 pounds)
($1 = 0.7327 pounds)
(Compiled by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru
Editing by David Goodman, Mark Potter, Barbara Lewis, William
Maclean and Kim Coghill)