Warehouse Group to focus on three brands after nearly $24m first-half loss

The Warehouse Group lost nearly $24 million in the six months ended January as consumers tightened their belts in a tough economic environment.

It sold its failing Torpedo7 chain for $1 last month but not before it cost it the retail group more than $55m.

Across the Warehouse Group which includes its stationery stores and Noel Leeming sales were down 5 percent with its chief executive describing the result as “sobering”.

It now plans to ditch its underperforming online platform; TheMarket.com and will simply shut it down if it does not sell.

A bright spot in a pretty pretty dreary retail landscape was its grocery arm with sales up almost 12 percent.

The Warehouse Group chief customer and sales officer Jonathan Waecker told Checkpoint company had been clear that it did not want TheMarket.com to drag the company’s profits down after this year and they had already announced the plan to close Torpedo7.

The company would now be focusing on The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery and Noel Leeming and for those three firms the net profit from those brands was $30m for the first half of the year which was up on last year.

Asked why TheMarket.com failed, Waecker said it was a great platform to invest in in 2018 but things had changed.

In a market such as New Zealand it was important for businesses to try things and to try to innovate, he said.

“This one just didn’t work out from a profit point of view, it lost money last year, it lost money this year.”

People did like to shop on TheMarket.com, he said.

“The challenge that we have is that we also have New Zealand’s number one retail site in thewarehouse.co.nz, so having two number one sites just cost too much. So we’re taking all the good things with TheMarket.com, the millions of products, the supplier relationships and the third party products and we’re putting those into warehouse.co.nz.”

Essentially they were just shutting down the front-end website TheMarket.com at the end of the year because the retailer did not need two front-end websites, he said.

The Warehouse did not plan on another $1 sale for TheMarket.com as it had for Torpedo7, he said.

“We’re thinking about that very differently than we’re thinking about Torpedo7, TheMarket.com has different types of assets, different type of value for us.”

The Warehouse had managed to reduce its labour and other costs this year and had no redundancies planned at this time, although it would have to continue to focus on keeping costs down, he said.

Things were currently challenging for the retail sector with Kiwis spending less and looking for savings, which was also why the grocery side of the business had done well, he said.

There was a subdued retail environment with The Warehouse apparel sales down 6 percent year-on-year in February and down 9 percent for homewares, appliances and furniture, he said.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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