Boohoo sees April sales rebound after ‘marked’ coronavirus slump

Online fashion retailer Boohoo has said it suffered a “marked” fall in sales last month as the coronavirus crisis struck, but revealed a swift rebound in April as it outshines hard-hit high street rivals.

The group – which also owns brands including PrettyLittleThing and NastyGal – said the recent Covid-19 events overshadowed a “great” financial year, with sales falling sharply year-on-year last month.

But the firm stressed it is seeing improved year-on-year growth of group sales during April thanks to a recent bounce-back.

Shares lifted 6% as Boohoo reported a 54% jump in pre-tax profits to £92.2 million for the year to February 29 as sales raced 44% higher.

On an underlying basis, annual pre-tax profits lifted 42% to £108.3 million.

The group said it was unable to give guidance on the year ahead due to the uncertainty around the pandemic, and flagged the potential for risks around a slump in demand and possible warehouse closures.

John Lyttle, chief executive of Boohoo, said: “Whilst recent events have understandably overshadowed what has been a great year for Boohoo, they have also highlighted its key strengths.

“Although there is near-term uncertainty in the markets that we operate in, the group is underpinned by its incredibly strong balance sheet and is well-placed to leverage its scalable multi-brand platform and to continue to disrupt fashion markets around the world.”

Analysts have backed the company to continue to shrug off wider market woes despite the outbreak, with its operations able to continue despite the Government-mandated lockdown which has hammered high street rivals.

The Manchester-based group has announced a series of profit upgrades over the past year as online-only retailers have gone from strength to strength, despite challenges in the wider sector.

Full-year figures showed sales lifted 39%, while its international operations showed an impressive 62% rise in Europe, a 61% hike in the US and a 19% increase around the rest of the world.

Its main Boohoo brand saw sales rise 39% to nearly £601,000, while sales more than doubled at Nasty Gal and rose 37% at PrettyLittleThing.

The group’s recently acquired fashion brands Karen Millen, Coast and MissPap put in an encouraging performance, with revenues of £19 million according to the group.

It said the brands are “resurging under new ownership and direction as online-only brands, with their great heritage intact”.

Caroline Gulliver, an equity analyst at Jefferies, said Boohoo had “once again exceeded expectations” with its full-year figures.

“Encouragingly, Boohoo has continued to grow sales in March/April as the company has adapted to the Covid-19-impacted environment,” she added.