Outdoor wear retailer Kathmandu will join the big-name chains reopening their bricks-and-mortar stores as strict coronavirus begins to ease.
The company – which reopened its Kathmandu and Rip Curl stores in NSW and Queensland as a trial in recent days – said it had also enjoyed a boost in online sales during April.
Despite that, it would expand its trial reopening to most of Australia by the end of this week.
Shops will have additional safety protocols such as hand sanitiser and face masks, contactless customer service and payment, customer limits in-store and social distancing between customers and team members.
Kathmandu joins Myer and the owners of high street brands such as Athlete’s Foot, Clarks and Mossimo in a return to more traditional shopping.
Accent Group, which owns Athlete’s Foot, Platypus and Hype DC,said last week it would reopen more than 500 stores in Australia and New Zealand by mid-May – although it also reported a “seismic” shift towards online shopping.
Myer expects to reopen some shops from May 11, and has already set up click-and-collect hubs at 22 of its Australian branches.
Kathmandu, which has 327 outlets around the world, joined a string of retailers that rushed to shut their doors in late March as governments imposed strict social distancing rules and other measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
But leaders in Australia and New Zealand have taken the first steps to relaxing restrictions as the number of new COVID-19 cases stays low.
Kathmandu said online sales were up up to 300 per cent during April, compared with a year earlier. The strongest growth was in its main Australian market.
“Our customers are clearly seeking products to support their active outdoor lifestyles, while coping with the social restrictions imposed by this global health crisis,” group chief executive Xavier Simonet said.
He said investments in digital infrastructure and supply chain in the past three years had allowed the group to rapidly ramp up online trading and distribution capacity in the face of unprecedented online demand.
Despite that growth, the closure of the store network since late March had had a material adverse impact on full-year earnings, the company said.
Kathmandu raised $NZ207 million ($A201 million) through a share sale in April to strengthen its balance sheet.
Kathmandu and Rip Curl stores in New Zealand, North America, Europe, Brazil and Japan will remain closed amid ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic. They will reopen only based on government directives in each country, the company said.