EARNINGS of Gokongwei-led Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. (RRHI) fell 33% to P719 million in the second quarter due to the closure of some of its stores during the strict lockdown.

In a statement on Thursday, the listed retailer said its net sales slid 12% to P34.9 billion because of the series of lockdowns to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During this period, the company’s sales in existing stores contracted 13.9%, which includes the performance of store formats that were forced to temporarily shut down because of quarantine measures.

Aside from closing “nonessential” stores, RRHI had to temporarily shut down about 30% of its “essential” convenience stores, due to manpower issues, absence of public transportation and office building closures.

For the year-to-date period, RRHI’s attributable earnings dipped 4% to P1.64 billion, as net sales slid 3% to P74.96 billion. Sales in existing stores contracted 3.8%.

Because of the effects of COVID-19 to its operations, particularly the shift in consumer behavior to limit face-to-face interactions, RRHI intends to further boost its digital platforms.

“Digitalization remains one of (RRHI’s) key strategic pillars. The company accelerated its e-commerce initiatives via third-party platforms and (is) launching its own e-commerce sites,” it said.

Some of these projects are the launch of a Southstar Drug website for its drugstore brand, a Robinsons Supermarket website for its grocery brand, and investments in e-commerce platforms BeautyMNL and Growsari.

At the end of the six months, RRHI had a total of 1,890 stores in its network, comprised of 262 supermarkets, 49 department stores, 222 do-it-yourself stores, 512 convenience stores, 520 drugstores and 325 specialty stores. It also has an unidentified number of franchised stores of The Generics Pharmacy.

Shares in RRHI at the stock exchange picked up P1.75 or 2.92% to close at P61.75 each on Thursday. — Denise A. Valdez