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Coronavirus: Angling Direct furloughs staff and halts investment plans

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Andy Torrance, Angling Direct CEO: “The retail environment has never before been in a position where it has had to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.”

One of Europe’s fastest growing fishing tackle suppliers has furloughed its employees and put investment plans on hold during the COVID-19 crisis.

In an update issued to investors, Angling Direct said it took the ‘difficult’ decision to use the reliefs extended by the UK Government, including furloughing its employees, to reduce cash outflows and provide the group with additional liquidity during this ‘uncertain’ trading period.

It also announced that it had secured a short-term £2.5m credit facility with an expiry date at the end of September, which will be used to help manage working capital during this period of disruption.

Reporting trading to date, it said business was resilient in February with overall sales growth of 1.3% compared to the same corresponding period, with e-commerce sales rising 3.5%, with its UK channel up 9.1%.

International online sales were down 27.6%, primarily due to its strategic decision, taken last Autumn, to withdraw from certain territories to protect margins and profitability.

Group sales increased 19% year-on-year over the first three weeks of March prior to the significant impact of COVID-19.

As a result of the closure of its store network, the group says that it expects a material reduction in revenue and profitability for the year. It said: “The scale of the impact will be dependent on how the situation develops and over what timeframe, together with the impact of any further measures taken by the UK Government to mitigate the disruption.

“The company retains healthy stock levels, allowing our e-commerce sales to continue and ready for when people begin to return to fishing when conditions allow.”

Andy Torrance, Chief Executive Officer, said: “The retail environment has never been in a position where it has to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. Our focus remains on protecting our valued members of staff, ensuring appropriate and safe working conditions and, where possible, providing an uninterrupted service to our loyal and supportive customers. Like many in the retail community, we are also extremely thankful to the UK Government for the support provided at this difficult time.”

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