Gift giant in Burnaby’s biggest mall takes a $171M shellacking

These are bleak times for businesses in Burnaby thanks to COVID-19.

Retailers are slowly reopening their locations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean shoppers – especially those still out of work – will come back in significant numbers.

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That’s the case for one of Burnaby’s biggest retailers, Indigo Books & Music Inc., which operates out of Metropolis at Metrotown.

Indigo expects at least 10 to 12 months of a "damaging set of conditions" from the COVID-19 pandemic, said chief executive Heather Reisman, the day after the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $171.3 million.

"This pandemic is, to be sure, a seismic, once-in-a-lifetime event," Reisman told a conference call with analysts Wednesday. "For Indigo, like so many others, the impact has been and will continue to be significant."

She said governments deemed the retailer as non-essential so it was forced to close all 196 of its stores two weeks before the close of its financial year, which ended March 28.

Prior to the closures, the company expected to close its financial year with an essentially flat figure for adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, she said.

Indigo had expected the first quarter of its new financial year to be strong, said Reisman, "putting us back on track to real profitability."

However, the coronavirus is now impacting that trajectory, she said, noting the company still feels "truly optimistic" about its medium-term trajectory.

  • With files from the Canadian Press

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