Online sales help Lew set new records for a year like no other

Solomon Lew has staged a remarkable turnaround in a year of record-breaking events for Premier Investments.

Dec 04, 2020, updated Dec 04, 2020
Premier Investments chairman Solomon Lew and managing director Mark McInnes.

Premier Investments chairman Solomon Lew and managing director Mark McInnes.

The company, which owns leading retailers including Just Jeans, Portmans, Peter Alexander and Smiggle, had to deal with Brexit issues in the UK, the Hong Kong protests, devastating bushfires and floods as well as the fall of the Australian dollar – then came the pandemic.

That meant store sales fell 78 per cent and global sales dropped by $131 million.

But Lew told shareholders today that the retail sector was being restructured by COVID-19. Its online sales for the first 18 weeks of the 2020-21 year were up 70 per cent on last year and the company was “very optimistic” about the year ahead. Lew also said the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales were record-breaking.

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There were also record sales for Peter Alexander, Smiggle, and strong like-for-like sales growth across all apparel brands.

Premier had faced criticism during the year for its refusal to pay rent to some landlords during the lockdowns and for its use of the JobKeeper subsidy while also paying bonuses to executives, including the one-time scandal magnet Mark McInnes who earned a $2.5 million bonus. Those issues were not addressed.

Lew said the booming online sales were contributing more than 25 per cent of Premier’s total sales at a “significantly higher earnings before interest and tax margin than that of a retail store”.

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