'Harrods of the Highlands' House of Bruar eyes post-Covid rebound but warns of Brexit pricing fallout
Results for the year to the end of January 2021 show that turnover fell by 10 per cent to £29.3 million, compared with the year before. Underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) totalled £4.5m, a fall of 5 per cent.
During the year, the retail operations were dramatically reduced due to the impact of lockdown. The retail premises near Blair Atholl - often labelled the “Harrods of the Highlands” - were closed from the end of March until the end of June 2020, with the exception of the popular food hall, which continued to service local demand throughout the whole period.
Managing director Patrick Birkbeck said: “Covid-19 has understandably meant that the retail performance in 2020/21 was severely diminished and yet the company has produced a significant profit for the year due to the migration of customers from retail to an already healthy direct shopping business.
“For the last 25 years, the company’s policy has been to re-invest back into the premises, structure and systems of the business. The continual investment in direct shopping capability was a major reason for the company being able to trade successfully in 2020/21.”
The business is forecasting that both turnover and profits will increase above pre-Covid levels for the current year to January 2022.
“Duty and massively increased delivery charges have been absorbed by the company this year, but will ultimately lead to increased prices.
“There is a well documented labour shortage across many sectors, in particular retail and hospitality.”
In March 2020, the company employed 270 people and due to the furlough job retention scheme and reallocating staff to direct shopping, the business maintained that level of employment as of the end of January 2021.
House of Bruar, which lies just off the A9, was founded by Mark and Linda Birkbeck and is run by managing director son Patrick.
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