Latest accounts for Eason & Son Ltd show that the business – which operates more than 50 shops around the country – made a total loss of just under €10.1 million for the 12 months to the end of January. This was well down on the loss of €21.12m incurred during the previous financial year.
The accounts show that, on a pre-tax basis, the annual loss fell from €20.14m to just under €7m and turnover (excluding the effect of discontinued operations) fell by 10% to €306.2m. On an operating level, last year’s loss of €26.3m was converted into a profit of €786,000.
The profit and loss account includes an impairment charge of €345,000, which relates to a revaluing of a number of assets in the company’s property portfolio – due to the depressed commercial property market.
Retail revenue fell by 5% across the company’s operations in the Republic – due to the continuing difficult trading conditions seen in the retail sector – while they rose by 7% in the North. There, Easons benefited from the rise in cross-border shopping and the closure of rival Woolworth’s.
Overall, Easons balance sheet decreased in value by €25m – or 17% – last year. “The decrease is primarily due to the fall in property values,” the company said.
During the 12 months in question, the company sold off its British-based bookselling and stationery retail business and, earlier this year, Easons increased its store portfolio in Ireland by taking over the airport shops previously operated by Hughes & Hughes – in Dublin and Cork – after the latter went into receivership.
Two more positive points were that the company’s long-term loan with Barclays Bank has been reduced from €32m to €27m and, due to an improvement in investment returns on international equity markets during last year, the company’s pension deficit of €12.8m was fully eliminated by the end of the fiscal year.
Eason’s employs around 1,700 staff and is gearing up to celebrate 125 years in business in 2011.