Northern Ireland fashion and homeware retailer Menarys saw its turnover rise by 5% to £21m according to its latest financial report, but it will still close three of its 18 stores here.
he retailer said it made the decision to shut its Tempest stores in Omagh and Cookstown as well as its Menarys store at the Rushmere Centre at Craigavon, so it can concentrate on its “more profitable stores” .
Director Stephen McCammon said: “These closures form an important part of our strategy to ensure the business remains on a firm footing when some normality returns. The greatest impact of these closures is of course human — the loss of any jobs on our high streets is something we all wish could be avoided.”
In its financial report for the year to January 31, 2020, Menarys also published an increase in gross profits to £9.2m, up from the previous year’s £8.7m, but pre-tax profits dropped more than 40% to £208,194.
Mr McCammon has spoken out regularly about the challenges facing his retail chain recently, hitting out at Stormont for a disparity in Covid-19 support received by businesses here and in other parts of the UK. He said Menarys received 77% less financial support that its counterparts in GB, a shortfall which was compounded by numerous forced closures during lockdown.
Last year he said: “The logical consequence of the Assembly not addressing this Covid-19 support in Northern Ireland will be the inevitable loss of shops and jobs in the retail and hospitality sectors.”
And yesterday he added: “We were excluded from the important retail and hospitality grants early on in this crisis, along with many, many others — our crime being for growing our businesses and having more than one shop.
“We remain the only part of the UK to be penalised in this very unfair and illogical way, receiving one grant per business rather than per premises. While we remain short changed in comparison to others, the rules around supermarkets, M&S and the major discounters continue to give them huge advantages over the many local businesses who have supported our local high streets for generations.
“Our Executive cannot be unaware of the impossible position those forced to close within retail and hospitality are in. I would urge them to look to the inadequacy of the current support and address the unfair exclusion from grants of the many locally owned multiples who have served our local economy so well for so long.”
The company faced even more challenges this year when Arcadia, the name behind some of its concession brands, ceased to operate in bricks and mortar settings as it sold its Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge brands to online retail giant ASOS.
Mr McCammon said the closure of three of his stores was in part “necessary due to the administrations of our trading partners (Arcadia and Oasis), no doubt hastened by Covid”.
Menarys has 20 stores on the island of Ireland —‚ 18 are in Northern Ireland. It employs 293 members of staff.
The full impact of Covid-19 on the business will not be visible until next year’s financial results are published, but Mr McCammon said: “I fully expect the ‘shop local’ movement to gather pace as 2021 unfolds.”