Accent Group’s chief executive says there’s been a “seismic and most likely enduring” shift towards online shopping during the COVID-19 lockdowns and the company is trying to capitalise on the trend.
Accent, which owns Athlete’s Foot, Platypus and Hype DC, will reopen its more than 500 stores across Australia and New Zealand in the next two weeks but is also trying to renegotiate leases so rent is calculated as a portion of sales.
“The company considers this to be the fairest method of ensuring that losses are shared proportionately between landlords and tenants over the coming months as the economy recovers from this social and economic crisis,” the company said on Monday.
It has successfully renegotiated leases for more than 100 stores but was unable to come to terms with one major landlord and has given notice that it will exit 28 store leases when they expire during the next six months.
Accent says more closures are possible and it will be re-evaluating the size, location and format of its store network in the coming months.
Since it closed its stores on March 27 for four weeks amid the coronavirus restrictions, digital sales have grown from about $250,000 a day to between $800,000 and $1.1 million a day, the company said.
Accent believes this represents a “permanent shift in consumer habits in Australia and New Zealand and we expect our online sales to represent a much larger share of our total sales in the future”.
Its group stores have been converted to “dark stores” during the lockdown, working with its distribution centres to fulfil digital sales.
“It is clear that there has been a seismic and most likely enduring shift in consumer behaviour away from traditional shopping centres to shopping online,” Accent Group chief executive Daniel Agostinelli said.
“We will continue to drive digital growth as the number one priority in our company.”
Accent Group shares were up 21.7 per cent to a one-week high of $1.095 at 1310 AEDT.
As of the start of the year, Accent Group had 522 footwear stores across Australia and New Zealand – mostly The Athlete’s Foot, Platypus, Skechers and Hype DC but also Vans, Timberland, Dr Martens, Merrell, Subtype, Stylerunner and Trybe.
It has the exclusive rights to distribute a number of well-known footwear brands in Australia including Vans, Saucony and Timberland.