Mountain Warehouse warns of potential redundancies
Outdoor retailer Mountain Warehouse is considering making about 2,000 employees redundant after suffering a “catastrophic” drop in sales since last Thursday.
The company’s founder and chief executive, Mark Neale, admitted the brand is in a “battle for survival” as the coronavirus outbreak has led to a decline in sales across its UK stores.
“Our sales have completely evaporated since Thursday and Friday last week. Yesterday our sales were about 50% down on what we would expect, and following the announcements yesterday I expect they are going to be worse today and tomorrow,” Neale told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The sales situation is expected to take a turn for the worse once the UK government introduces tighter virus-control measures like Italy’s stringent quarantine.
In May 2019, Mountain Warehouse reported its 22nd consecutive year of rising sales, with revenues for the 12 months to February 24 rising by 13% to reach £255 million. During the Black Friday and Christmas period, sales grew by a further 16.2% compared to 2018.
But Neale said the coronavirus will have a significant impact on business, even for a company that is usually profitable and solvent.
“I don’t mean a rates holiday or something like that. We have already taken those numbers out of our cash flow projections. We don’t need somebody covering some sick pay, we need a response along the lines of what Gordon Brown did in the banking crisis, and it probably needs to be bigger than that,” Neale commented.
On Tuesday, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a number of measures to keep business afloat, including business rates relief for all retailers for 12 months and cash grants of up to £25,000.
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