Lockdowns Hit Harrods’ Bottom Line

Sales and profit at the famed London department store plummeted in 2020 as a result of strict lockdown measures that forced its Knightsbridge location to close for much of the year, according to business accounts filed with the UK’s Companies House.

Business turnover declined 51 percent to £429.5 million ($585.9 million) for the year ending January 30, 2021. Harrods also reported a £57.3 million loss, compared with a £191.4 million profit the year previous.

Gross transaction value — the company’s measure of retail sales before adjusting for concessions, consignments, staff discounts and loyalty scheme points — halved year-on-year to £1.1 billion.

It brought an end to a years-long period of growth for the retailer, which flourished at a time when many other department stores were struggling.

Even as lockdowns have eased, challenges still remain. International travel is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, a blow for Harrods, which depended heavily on high-spending oversees shopper’s pre-pandemic, in particular visiting Chinese consumers.

Meanwhile, a government decision earlier this year to abolish VAT-free shopping for international visitors — an important incentive for wealthy tourists to spend big — will likely have longer term implications, the retailer said in the filing.

Nevertheless, Harrods is optimistic about the year ahead. In a statement to BoF, the department store said it’s already “seen a huge return to demand for luxury.” It also plans to forge ahead with new H beauty store openings across the UK, while also investing in strengthening its presence in the crucial China market. In June, the retailer debuted a second outpost in the region for its private shopping service, called The Residence.

”Whilst we know recovery will take time, the early signs are very positive,” Harrods said in a statement.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Nov. 3, 2021, to include a statement from Harrods.

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