Retail icon back from brink of $6m loss
Queensland retail icon Wallace Bishop has narrowed its losses as a surge in online sales during the COVID-19 shutdown positioned it for a recovery.
The 103-old jeweller, which was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame last year, recorded a loss of $1.79 million in the year to the end of June compared to a $6.07 million deficit in the previous period.
The latest performance marks a turnaround for the jeweller after its auditor warned in December that the future of the company as a "going concern" was dependent on an improved financial performance and continued support from its holding company.
The retailer, which has 38 stores, made a loss of $6.07 million in 2019 and $9.4 million in 2018, according to financial reports filed with ASIC.
Wallace Bishop managing director Stuart Bishop said the company was in a substantially stronger position after it beefed up its online presence, slimmed down its management structure and closed a small number of stores.
Mr Bishop said trusted brands such as Wallace Bishop had benefitted from a surge in online sales across the retail sector during COVID-19.
"Our online sales have surged by several thousand percent and we are aiming to grow that to about 5 per cent of our total sales," said Mr Bishop. "Part of it has been driven by people not being able to go on holidays so they have some extra money."
According to its latest annual financial statement lodged with ASIC, Wallace Bishop had faced challenging trading conditions at its bricks and mortar stores due to COVID-19 but had kept most of its outlets open during the initial period of the pandemic.
"Six stores were closed in April but were subsequently reopened in May," according to the report prepared by auditor Merrotts.
"The company was able to access a number of forms of government support, which in addition to improved sales has resulted in the company being in a strong financial position."
Mr Bishop said people had become more confident in placing online orders for even expensive items such as Swiss watches.
The retailer had generated a cash flow surplus, before new borrowings, of $2.46 million during the year compared to a net deficiency of $4.07 million in 2019.
Wallace Bishop has traded profitably since the end of the financial year and had the continued support of its holding company and related parties.
Originally published as Qld retail icon back from brink of $6m loss