Harvey Nichols Emerges From Tough Year of COVID-19 Damage, New Investment

Marco B Divaio

LONDON — Harvey Nichols saw sales dip 2.9 percent to 222 million pounds in the 12 months to March 30, 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began taking its toll on business. According to its latest Companies House filing, which has not yet been published, the store’s earnings before interest, […]

LONDON — Harvey Nichols saw sales dip 2.9 percent to 222 million pounds in the 12 months to March 30, 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began taking its toll on business.

According to its latest Companies House filing, which has not yet been published, the store’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, were down 48 percent to 7.2 million pounds in the period, which Harvey Nichols said was due to intensive investments in its retail operations and infrastructure.

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The consolidated results pertain to all Harvey Nichols stores in the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland, including the Knightsbridge flagship. The results also include franchise income from the group’s six international stores in Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait, Doha and Hong Kong, which operate under license.

The group described the 12 months to March 2020 as a “challenging year” due to a variety of factors. Although Harvey Nichols was forced shut in the final weeks of its financial year, the temporary closures, and a lack of international tourists, still took a bite out of sales.

The group said EBITDA declined due to “substantial” investments in e-commerce and online operations “in order to build a stronger foundation for long-term growth.”

During the 2019-20 fiscal year the company invested further in its IT infrastructure and CRM program, and introduced a Fragrance Room to the Knightsbridge flagship. “These significant investments, coupled with higher costs necessary to drive online trade, impacted overall operating results,” the group said.

Harvey Nichols said it would continue to invest in its online channels and stores to ensure that it can drive profitable growth going forward.

In fiscal 2019-20, online sales grew 33 percent compared with the previous year, and the trend has continued into fiscal 2020-21. Harvey Nichols said online sales grew a further 69 percent in the 12 months to March 2021.

Manju Malhotra, chief executive officer of Harvey Nichols, said “we are very proud to have been able to navigate a challenging year and to continue to deliver for our customers globally, despite the pandemic. Whilst economic recovery will be slow, further impacted by restrictions on international travel, our teams continue to focus on delivering the best product and experiences across fashion, beauty, food, wine, hospitality and services, as the world slowly reemerges from the pandemic.”

Harvey Nichols promoted Malhotra to the CEO post in January and she reports to Sir Dickson Poon, the chairman and owner of Harvey Nichols.

Malhotra was most recently chief operating officer of Harvey Nichols. She has been with the luxury retailer since 1998, and held a number of roles before becoming finance director in 2010.

A week after announcing Malhotra’s appointment as CEO, the store named industry veteran Clare Horner to the post of beauty director.

Horner, whose experience covers sales, buying, marketing, merchandising and operations, succeeded Jo Osborne, and she reports to Malhotra.

At the time, Malhotra said Horner’s “unique experience makes her ideally positioned to spearhead beauty, and further develop the category across both our online business and physical stores.”

Harvey Nichols’ U.K. stores are located in London, Leeds, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. There is also a dedicated beauty store, Beauty Bazaar, in Liverpool, and a store in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.

The group also operates the OXO Bar, Brasserie & Restaurant on London’s South Bank and harveynichols.com.

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