Peter Alexander, Smiggle boss says ‘long way to go’ for CBD bounce back

There is a long way to go before Sydney and Melbourne’s CBD shopping areas return to normal, says Premier Retail’s chief executive, as owner of Smuggle and Peter Alexander claim thousands of days of business have been lost due to COVID .

The $4.6 billion retailer’s profit fell 13 per cent to $163 million for the six months to December, but after Premier’s board posted growth in its flagship brands despite storefront closures due to the COVID lockdown increased its payments to shareholders. An interim dividend of 46¢, which was 34¢ a year ago, is payable on July 27.

Premiere Investments’ online sales have surged and many of its retail storefronts have closed due to the COVID lockdown. Credit:Edwina Pickles

talking to Sydney Morning Herald And ageChief executive Richard Murray said the company has seen some positive results from CBD locations over the past six months, but acknowledged the city’s shopping hasn’t fully recovered.

“There’s still a long, long way to go… the reality is that there are still a lot of offices where a large number of employees haven’t returned,” he said.

He said that shopkeepers are ready to return to shopping centers after the lockdown, but they have changed the way they shop in stores. “Customers seem to be very mission-oriented in their purchases. I think there are still some older generations [that] are a bit more conservative [going shopping],

Mr Murray said supply chain cost pressures were being felt across the company but the Premier team was working hard to manage these. While he wouldn’t draw on whether customers might see an increase in prices on specific products, he acknowledged that the cost may eventually have to be passed on if the situation doesn’t improve.

“There is no doubt that there will be some price volatility,” he said.

Online sales across the group grew 27 percent, to a record $194.5 million in the six months to December.

Despite the closure of many of its bricks-and-mortar Peter Alexander stores, the sleepwear brand’s sales rose 11.4 percent to a record $227.4 million. Peter Alexander’s sales have increased by 57 percent since the start of the pandemic and by 400 percent over the past decade.

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