Fashion retailer Primark is working to re-open all its 153 stores in England on June 15, in line with the country’s easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, its owner Associated British Foods said on Monday.
All Primark stores were closed over a 12-day period from March 11 as the virus spread, resulting in a loss of sales of about 650 million pounds for every month that all stores were closed.
As governments around Europe have begun to ease restrictions Primark has been able to re-open stores in those countries too.
Primark is currently trading from 112 stores across Europe and the United States, representing 34% of its total selling space. By June 15 it plans to have 281 stores open or 79% of selling space, including all stores in England.
Primark is awaiting further guidance from the devolved administrations for its stores in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and anticipates openings in late June, AB Food said in its statement.
“Trading in our re-opened stores has been both reassuring and encouraging, with customer queues outside most stores and, once in store, spending on larger basket sizes,” AB Foods said.
But it cautioned that cumulative sales since re-opening, on a like-for-like basis, were down on the same period last year.
The company’s initial view is that the implementation of social distancing measures will likely only affect sales to some extent in its busiest stores, which represent some 10-20% of pre Covid-19 total Primark sales.
AB Foods also operates major grocery, sugar, agriculture and ingredients businesses.
It said annual grocery operating profit would be ahead of previous expectations, with stronger sales of branded products sold through retailers more than offsetting weaker sales in food services (pubs, restaurants and cafes). However, it was now expecting a lower profit at AB Sugar.
The group said it was still too early to resume overall earnings guidance for the remainder of the current financial year.