Matalan, the prominent UK fashion and lifestyle retailer, has faced a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the company remains optimistic and sees opportunities for growth and development moving forward. Despite reporting a pre-tax loss of £118.6 million for the 12 months to February 27, compared to a loss of £16.7 million the previous year, Matalan’s Executive Chairman, Steve Johnson, is focused on enhancing customer choice and experience, as well as improving operational efficiency.

One key area of focus for Matalan is the expansion of its online channel, which has experienced a significant increase in turnover over the past two years. The company plans to capitalize on this growth by launching a store refurbishment scheme in 2022. This commitment to improving the online shopping experience showcases Matalan’s dedication to meeting the changing needs and preferences of its customers.

While Matalan’s overall sales declined to £744 million from £1.129 billion a year ago, the negative impact was partially offset by strong online sales growth. Despite the challenges faced by physical stores during lockdowns, Matalan remains committed to its current network of 230 retail units across the UK and will proceed with the store refurbishment scheme next year. This demonstrates the company’s belief in the importance of providing a physical retail presence for its customers.

Johnson acknowledges the significant impact the pandemic has had on Matalan’s business but highlights the increased fulfillment capacity that allowed the company to shift to online channels. By leveraging store inventory to fulfill online orders, Matalan aims to further develop its omnichannel capabilities and meet customer demands effectively. Additionally, the company has taken decisive action to manage its finances and preserve cash, ensuring its liquidity remains strong.

In the months following the easing of pandemic restrictions, Matalan experienced a surge in pent-up customer demand. The company’s out-of-town shopping environments and convenient click and collect services have contributed to strong performance both in physical stores and online. However, Johnson remains cautious about the future retail landscape and warns that initial demand levels may not necessarily reflect long-term trends.

Despite these challenges, Matalan is confident in its ability to recover and improve its performance. The company believes that its unique store format, strategic locations, online growth potential, and value proposition position it well for success in the market. By prioritizing the enhancement of customer experience, expanding its online presence, and improving operational agility, Matalan aims to build on its omnichannel strength and navigate the evolving retail landscape.

Useful links:
1. Matalan Official Website
2. BBC News – Retail