Covid-19: Heinemann ‘relatively well positioned’ but fiscal losses expected

By Luke Barras-hill |

HeinemannentranceGebr. Heinemann has released a statement revealing the roll out of a ‘comprehensive set of measures’ to cut costs and preserve liquidity in the face of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The Hamburg-headquartered travel retailer last provided a formal trading update to TRBusiness in mid-February [when global Covid-19 cases in the tens of thousands presented an unrecognisable picture to the almost 2.5 million today – Ed] but approaches from this publication since then have not yielded further comment.

In a status update circulated today, Gebr. Heinemann acknowledges the significant financial challenges presented by Covid-19 owing to the collapse of global travel and the decimation caused to travel retailers, airlines, airports, cruises, hotels, tour operators.

High turnover losses are being felt and income to cover fixed costs has virtually dried up, says Heinemann.


Nina Semprecht, Head of Corporate Communications, Gebr. Heinemann said: “Thanks to our solid economic performance in the past, we are relatively well positioned. “However, the current crisis cannot be compared with previous crises, as it occurs worldwide and it is not foreseeable how long it will take to overcome it.”

By way of response, Heinemann has reduced its personnel costs by placing 2,700 employees in Germany alone on a short-time working directive as a means of avoiding staff cuts.

It has postponed capital expenditure and operating expenses and reduced assets and negotiations with airports in view of what is likely to be a prolonged period of recovery for travel retail compared with other industries.


While 2020 will be characterised by ‘high financial losses’, quite how economically deep the coronavirus will cut makes future forecasting extremely difficult, according to Hamburg-based Gebr. Heinemann.

The firm has received aid from the German government in the form of short-time working allowances for employees; whether further assistance will be sought will depend on the duration of the crisis, says Heinemann.

“As a family business, we think in generations, not quarters,” added Semprecht. “This long-term perspective determines our business activities. In the 140 years of its existence, Gebr. Heinemann has already experienced economic crises, epidemics, the consequences of the attacks of 11 September and a cloud of volcanic ash.

“The year 2020 will be characterised by high financial losses. However, the duration of the crisis is decisive for assessing the long-term economic effects. The unpredictability of its end also makes a reliable estimate for our company extremely difficult at present.”

Gebr. Heinemann is set to release its Annual Report 2019 in due course. This will contain a more complete financial picture of Group and retail sales and shop revenues across its regional operations (including joint ventures), plus a more nuanced analysis of key buying trends, reported in detail by TRBusiness.

The company was due to host its traditional press conference with members of the trade press today (21 April), but this was cancelled due to Covid-19.


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