River Island swings to £51.5m loss but is in “better shape”

River Island
River Island has closed around 20 stores in the past two years
// River Island posts pre-tax loss of £51.5m for the year to December 26 2020
// Operating loss stood at £36.2m, down from an operating profit of £21.4m
// Sales fell from £879.5m to £600.5m in the same period

River Island has recorded a pre-tax loss of £51.5 million after a challenging year as sales dropped due to enforced store closures.

The pre-tax loss was recorded for the year to December 26 2020, against a profit of £3.8 million the year prior.

Operating loss stood at £36.2 million, down from an operating profit of £21.4 million the year previous.

READ MORE: Empty River Island and Debenhams stores converted into climate emergency centres

Sales fell from £879.5 million to £600.5 million in the same period, with footfall in its 270 stores dropping by two thirds.

River Island has closed around 20 stores in the past two years.

Online sales now account for around half of its sales. The retailer also added 100 new workers in online roles to its 7000 staff.

The company said it will continue to focus on online growth, as well as a cost-cutting programme and also expanded its ranges to include athleisure, intimate apparel and baby clothes.

River Island also benefitted from government support over the pandemic, receiving £20 million in furlough support and a further £25 million in business rates relief.

“I am pleased to say that, today, our business is in better shape than it was pre-pandemic: our differentiated product ranges and pricing have huge appeal to a wide demographic, there is more buzz around the brand than there has been in many years, we are operating far more efficiently, and our digital offer goes from strength to strength,” chief executive Will Kernan said.

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