The owner of multiple jewellery retailer, Argento, is confident his business can weather the storm of Covid-19.
The business, which is based in Northern Ireland but also has stores in the rest of the UK, has already taken two big beatings in the last few years.
The first being the heavily-reported Primark fire in Belfast, which led to the retailer’s flagship being closed for a period of time, and the second being the offloading of its Pandora portfolio.
The combination of the two, resulted in a 55% drop in revenue to £23m last year, as recorded in accounts with Companies House.
Pre-tax profits were down from £14.3m to just under £249,800.
In the report, directors Peter Boyle and Ciara Denvir say that despite the dip in revenue, the group performed well last year.
And even though the firm, which also includes a property arm, anticipates an even more testing 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on bricks and mortar retail, company director, Peter Boyle, vows the company will “get through this”.
Boyle tells the Belfast Telegraph: “It’s a terrible situation for many businesses to be in. For us, just coming back from the Primark fire, Covid-19 is like Act Two. Bricks and mortar retailers were already operating on a 10% margin, if they were lucky, and Covid-19 has created additional uncertainty.”
He continues: “As a company, we’re in a very good position. We’re a well-managed business, we won’t go bust. We will lose profit that we could have earned but we will be here when it’s over, it’s a question of what format that takes but we will get through this.”
Boyle truly believes the company is in good health to weather the storm of Covid-19 but questions how long the government can sustain business support schemes.
“We don’t qualify for most of the business schemes because we are considered a large scale business but we have furloughed staff who will get 80% of their wages,” he explains.
“What we would like to see now is landlords forgoing rent and service charges when buildings aren’t being used. That is something we have done as a landlord. We have given our tenants who are impacted by the coronavirus a three-month pardon but there are some tough landlords out there who won’t budge.”
The company’s results were released just as the director contributed £10,000 to a Crowdfunding campaign to create face shields for frontline workers in the NHS.