Outdoor wear retailer Kathmandu has seen a surge in online sales in April but will open most of its stores in Australia by the end of this week as strict restrictions for COVID-19 are eased.
The company said it had reopened Kathmandu and Rip Curl stores in NSW and Queensland on a trial basis in recent days and had decided to expand the move to the majority of its stores in Australia.
Stores will reopen with additional safety protocols such as hand sanitiser and face masks, contactless customer service and payment, customer limits in-store and social distancing between customers and team members.
The ASX and NZX-listed retailer had shut most of its 327-store international network in late-March as governments imposed strict social distancing rules and business closures in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.
But leaders in Australia and New Zealand have taken the first steps to relaxing restrictions as the number of new COVID-19 cases stays very low.
Meanwhile, Kathmandu said online sales jumped 2.5 to 3 times in April compared with a year earlier, with the highest growth rates in its main Australian market.
“Our customers are clearly seeking products to support their active outdoor lifestyles, while coping with the social restrictions imposed by this global health crisis,” group chief executive Xavier Simonet said.
He said investments in digital infrastructure and supply chain during the past three years had allowed the group to rapidly ramp up online trading and distribution capacity in the face of unprecedented online demand.
Despite that growth, the closure of the store network since late March had had a material adverse impact on full-year earnings, the company said.
Kathmandu raised $NZ207 million ($A201 million) through a share sale in April to strengthen its balance sheet.
Kathmandu and Rip Curl stores in New Zealand, North America, Europe, Brazil and Japan would remain closed amid ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic and would only reopen based on government directives in each country, the company said.