Douglas in Milan

PARIS ­— Douglas, one of Europe’s largest premium perfumery chains, said on Thursday that its business returned to growth in June.

The group’s sales in the first nine months of its fiscal year, ended June 30, declined 7.5 percent year-on-year to 2.5 billion euros. In the period, Douglas’ brick-and-mortar revenues fell 17.2 percent, while its e-commerce sales spiked 39.6 percent to 640 million euros.

The company cited stringent cost discipline and consistent liquidity management as contributing to the results.

Douglas’ adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were down 10.6 percent to 264 million euros. “At 3.9 million euros, the company’s net profit for the first nine months of the fiscal year was positive,” it said.

At the same time, the group continued expanding its market share in the key markets of Germany, France, Spain and Italy, online and off-line.

Due to government-ordered store closures across Europe, the group posted sales declines in March, April and May.

“Our fast and resolute crisis management, our strict cost discipline and the early digitalization of the company in line with our #ForwardBeauty strategy had a clear impact,” Tina Müller, chief executive officer of Douglas Group, said in a statement.

“When we launched this strategic program, we focused on e-commerce from the very beginning,” she continued. “We are now profiting enormously from this decision. We have broadly expanded our position as a leading premium e-commerce provider and could offset partially the drop in sales from our stores. We have now reopened most of our stores across Europe and saw already again a clear upward trend in our store sales in June.”

In late March, Douglas said it was opening its online marketplace to more retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic has radically and permanently changed consumption behavior. Even before the coronavirus crisis began, there was a shift toward online retailing. The pandemic has accelerated this trend even further,” said Vanessa Stützle, Douglas Group chief digital officer.

“In the third quarter, our e-commerce business increased by 70.3 percent year-on-year, and the number of new customers even rose by over 90 percent,” she explained. “We are also really pleased to see that this momentum has continued even after stores reopened. We assume that today we are already generating about three times the amount of online sales that our nearest competitor is generating in Germany.”

Stützle said Douglas is nearing the 1-billion-euro sales mark in e-commerce. In the first nine months of 2020, Douglas made 25.6 percent of its overall sales online. In its domestic market, the level reached 39.9 percent.

On June 30, the company’s liquidity reserves stood at 339 million euros, while free cash flow totaled 29 million euros. Douglas has 2,400 stores in Europe, where the group has noted a rise in the number of customers since April, with a sharp upward trend particularly in June, when the group noted a sales increase versus June 2019.

The company said it will present a future concept for its European store network in early 2021, rather than late this summer, as previously announced, since it wants to make a responsible decision about the future potential of each store and to understand how widespread the new form of consumer behavior is during the key Christmas shopping period.

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