At Premier Investments’ AGM, Solomon Lew told shareholders that the business is committed to improving its digital channels, but offline will always be “a key driver of sales”.
The Chairman of Premier Investments, Solomon Lew, addressed shareholders at the business’s AGM on Thursday, outlining the company’s strong performance over the past 12-months.
Of particular note, was the investment group’s recent success with its key brands’ online offerings, which saw the business reach its target of $100 million online by 2020 more than two years ahead of schedule, recording an online sales result of $112.5 million, a 65.3 percent increase from FY17.
“We have made substantial investments in our online channels, including a very significant upgrade this year to all of our brands’ platforms across mobile, tablet and desktop,” he said. “We are committed to continuing to invest in this fast-paced space, which should position us to continue to outperform under the leadership of Georgia Chewing, and aided by Premier Retail’s Chief Information Officer, Frank De Sa.”
However, despite strong online retail growth, Lew also told attendees that ramped up digital efforts aren’t enough to keep the company on a positive sales trajectory, with offline efforts still being the company’s most profitable sales channel across its suite of retail brands.
“While we believe our best in class Online offering will continue to be a key driver of sales, we also recognise that customers want to experience a world-class in-store shopping experience. That’s why we have continued to invest heavily in new flagship stores and the refurbishment of existing stores across our brands,” Lew explained.
“We constantly review our store footprint and continue to close unprofitable stores. In FY18, we closed a further 17 stores, bringing the total number of store closures to 103 over the last six years. We continue to press landlords to offer rent in line with the changing consumer market and their own centre performance and further closures will occur for those landlords who do not respond to these changing market conditions.”
Lew also confirmed that in the next few months, Premier would be shuttering the doors of three unprofitable stores on Chapel Street in South Yarra, which he says is a true sign of the “changing nature of retail”, as Just Jeans opened its first store on the iconic shopping strip, marking the birth of the Just Group.
In FY18, Premier Investments recorded an underlying net profit before tax of $160.3 million, a 9.2 percent increase on FY17. These profits are a culmination of proceeds from the retail group’s core brands, Just Jeans, Smiggle, Portmans, Jacquie E, Dotti and Peter Alexander. In the last financial year, the group also increased its online sales by 65.3 percent, attributing to 11 percent of the company’s total sales in countries and for brands that have transactional websites.
“Our 2011 strategy identified online as an essential and complementary channel for our brands. We have grown this channel from almost zero in FY11 to $112.5 million this year,” Lew said.
In 2019, Premier says it will continue to invest in this fast-paced growth channel as it plans to launch new websites for Just Jeans, Smiggle, Portmans and Jacqui E in New Zealand. These websites will join both Peter Alexander and Dotti, who already have local websites.