Tuesday 25 June 2019

Brown Thomas and Arnotts invest €25m in online as sales rise

Arnotts boss to take over both department stores as turnover hits €250m

Brown Thomas MD Stephen Sealey.
Brown Thomas MD Stephen Sealey.

Samantha McCaughren, Business Editor

Brown Thomas and Arnotts, the two landmark Dublin department stores, are to spend €25m on technology in order to capitalise on rapidly increasing demand for online retail. Online is on track to account for around 25pc of sales across the stores within three years, based on current growth levels.

It comes as new accounts for both show turnover totalling €249m for 12 months to February 2018, with Arnotts beginning to reap the rewards of increased investment from new owner, the Selfridges Group, which also owns the Brown Thomas group.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent, Brown Thomas managing director Stephen Sealey and Arnotts managing director Donald McDonald said that preparation has been going on behind the scenes to allow the two stores to work more closely together, sharing HR, IT and other back office functions.

It was announced to staff last Friday that Sealey is to retire next May, with McDonald taking over the role of managing director of both stores.

Donald McDonald, MD of Arnotts
Donald McDonald, MD of Arnotts

Accounts to be filed shortly for Arnotts show turnover was up 11pc from €75.4m in 2017 to €83.6m. The company, which had been heavily indebted prior to its takeover by Selfridges in 2015, delivered an operating profit of €272,000, a turnaround from an operating loss of €523,000 in 2017. "We are actually ahead of where we thought we would be when we started," said McDonald.

Accounts to be filed shortly for Brown Thomas show that turnover was €165.7m, down 1.2pc.

However, Sealey said that like-for-like sales were up 4pc - Brown Thomas reports a net income figure for concessions, which does not reflect the revenue figures recorded by these labels at the tills.

Topline sales for the Brown Thomas group are €300m and were in growth last year, he said. Pre-tax profit was €4.7m, down from €6.2m and Sealey said this was because of investment in the business. It has recently completed a €35m investment plan.

Speaking about the changing of the guard at the stores, Selfridges Group MD Paul Kelly paid tribute to Sealey's achievements over 10 years as MD. "His passion and energy contributed hugely to ensuring that Brown Thomas is well positioned for its continued success into the future," he said.

"Donald has been doing a great job in restoring Arnotts' iconic retail status and I have every confidence that he will continue to nurture and grow both Brown Thomas and Arnotts into the future."

Sunday Indo Business

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