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City Chic online growth carries through lockdown, stores to reopen

City Chic Fountain Gate store
City Chic Fountain Gate store

Fashion retailer City Chic has begun reopening stores across Australia and New Zealand after the lockdown led to a period of online growth.

A number of stores were reopened on a trial basis over the past two weeks to ensure safety protocols were prepared for a wider relaunch, and as such a staged rollout of City Chic’s 107 Australian and New Zealand stores.

“I am proud of how engaged our store teams have been throughout the closure period and know they are ready and energised to get back to serving our customers in store,” City Chic chief executive Phil Ryan said. 

City Chic didn’t comment on a time frame for the relaunch of stores, though has been able to negotiate lower or more appropriate rents for the majority of its sites. An eligibility for JobKeeper in Australia and the Wage Subsidy Scheme in New Zealand has helped to further keep costs down. 

The business’ e-commerce operations previously made up about two-thirds of sales, making the closure of its stores less punishing than in the case of some other retailers. 

And during this period online sales grew 57 per cent versus the same period of the year prior. 

“We achieved that by quickly moving to adjust our product mix to better suit the customer’s needs during these times,” Ryan said. 

Customers leaned toward the intimates, streetwear and casual categories of City Chic’s offer, which offset the fall in its higher-end ranges, though increased promotional activity pushed online gross margin down. 

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