South Africa | Mr Price says it lost R1.8 billion in sales in April due to strict lockdown

Fashion and homeware retailer Mr Price has reported a 24.8% decline in headline earnings per share in the 26 weeks ended 26 September, a period that included SA's strictest lockdowns. 

The Durban-based retailer said in an earnings update on Thursday that the decline was due to the impact of coronavirus pandemic, which cost it about R1.8 billion in lost sales in the month of April alone, when all its SA stores were forced to close.

During the 26 weeks it saw a 71.5% increase in online sales, although ecommerce only accounted for 2.5% of total sales. 

After the initial strict lockdowns, Mr Price said sales at first picked up at a fast pace with double digit growth in the first six weeks of the second quarter. However, growth was "flat" in the week prior to Black Friday week, indicating "the extreme volatility in consumer purchasing behaviour."

"The group is expecting a challenging Black Friday week, due partly to Covid-19 store restrictions which will limit footfall in stores, as well as to the strong performance in the prior year. The group does however anticipate continued high online growth as customers switch channels," it said. 

Mr Price will resume dividend payments, and declared an interim dividend of 210.1 cents per share.

In a separate note on Thursday the retailer announced that it had concluded an agreement to acquire value retailer Power Fashion. The targeted effective date of the transaction will be April 2021. 

“Mr Price and Power Fashion share a similar set of values which makes this acquisition a great fit," said Mr Price CEO, Mark Blair, in a statement. 

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