Brown Thomas and Arnotts have reopened their online shops following an increase in website sales of up to 300pc when the bricks-and-mortar shops closed last month due to coronavirus.
The department stores were operating as online-only retailers for 10 days. However, they then stopped taking orders for almost a week before re-opening on Friday.
Donald McDonald, managing director of Brown Thomas and Arnotts, stated that both websites were relaunched after additional safety measures had been introduced at the distribution centre.
Online sales account for around 12pc of the total turnover at the two stores, but rose by 200pc to 300pc on some days over the previous period. "We were well able for it, we had no issues around fulfilment," he told the Sunday Independent.
The websites are focusing on the beauty, home and electric departments, with a smaller than usual fashion offering.
McDonald conceded that large amounts of unsold spring and summer stock posed a significant issue.
"It is a big, big challenge for us and we are all working on that. We have a very good relationship with our suppliers and, in general, everyone is collaborating and working well together."
He added that there has been quite a lot of progress on how the company would deal with that post-crisis.
There is expected to be some significant discounting and sales in the fashion business, but McDonald said it was too early to say exactly how that will play out.
He added that the company was working through how recent events would impact on revenues. "We will have to take measures to compensate for that going forward," he said. "We're focused on getting through the crisis and doing the best we can. And as it unfolds, we'll be able to see what that looks like."
The company has committed to paying all staff in full during the closure.
"This is a time to stand by people," he said. "We're committed to doing that. It's been hugely appreciated and I've been getting messages about how relieved people are."
More than 80pc of staff are employed as in-store sales advisors, and cannot work at present.
Head office, administration and management are working remotely, while the online team and distribution staff are once again working on website transactions.
McDonald said he believed that current events would result in longer-term change in shopping habits. "I think we have to expect it to be different and we are planning for that," he said. "It could be a good thing."
He added that Brown Thomas and Arnotts had been working on innovations to adapt to changing consumer patterns.
A new store, planned for Dundrum Town Centre, is still set to go ahead, although it could face some delays.
Sunday Indo Business