Fenwick, the well-known British department store, has revealed a further decline in its financial performance before the onset of the pandemic. The iconic retailer, which has been owned by the Fenwick family for generations, reported losses of £47.3 million in the 12 months leading up to January 2020, labeling it as an “extremely challenging” period.

Despite the already difficult market conditions, Fenwick has surpassed its own expectations in terms of trading. The company has managed to maintain its financial strength, even though its net sales experienced a decline of 9% to £271.5 million. However, there have been some positive areas within the business, particularly in beauty and food, which have helped offset some of the losses.

Fenwick, with a rich history spanning nearly 140 years, currently operates nine department stores throughout the United Kingdom and employs around 1,900 individuals. Like many other traditional department stores, Fenwick has been grappling with significant challenges in recent years. In order to tackle these difficulties, the company had been actively working on a turnaround strategy, which included a somewhat delayed entry into the e-commerce market.

The pandemic has intensified Fenwick’s struggles, and the company experienced a period of leadership changes during the lockdown. CEO Robbie Feather and chairman Richard Pennycook, both instrumental figures within the company, departed. Many speculate that this change may signal the Fenwick family’s desire to exert more control over the business. However, the new appointments of CEO John Edgar and chairman Steve Barber were sourced externally, indicating a potential shift in the company’s direction and management style.

Overall, Fenwick is determined to navigate the challenging retail landscape and emerge stronger from this period of adversity. The company continues to focus on strengthening its core offerings, such as beauty and food, while also exploring new avenues for growth.

Useful links:
1. Fenwick Official Website
2. Reuters Article on Fenwick’s Reduced Losses