Frasers announces £100m+ lockdown-linked impairment charge
There’s speculation that there could be more store closures ahead for Frasers Group as the giant retail operation has announced a major impairment charge against its stores as a result of lockdowns.
In a stock exchange filing on Tuesday, the owner of Sports Direct, House of Frasers, Flannels, Jack Wills and more spoke of the devastating impact the past year has had on the value of its properties.
“Further to the announcement by the Government of details on the potential reopening of non-essential stores in England on 12 April, Frasers Group currently anticipates making material accounting impairments to freehold properties, other Property, Plant & Equipment, and IFRS 16 Right of Use Assets,” it said.
“Given the length of this current lockdown, potential systemic changes to consumer behaviour, and the risk of further restrictions in future, we believe this non-cash impairment could be in excess of £100m. Any such impairment would be in addition to impairments included in the half-year results announced on 10 December 2020 and is expected to be included, subject to audit, with the company's results for the financial year ending April 2021.”
And that comment about “systemic changes to consumer behaviour” is key for the company as it faces a future when it's allowed to reopen in April in which shopper habits may have changed for good.
It remains unclear how enthusiastically consumers will embrace a return to shopping in physical stores (despite some evidence that there’s plenty of pent-up demand). And while a restart of social events and weddings in the summer should boost sales of formal and occasionwear, working from home is now a feature of many working lives. This could dent sales at House of Fraser going forward.
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