Government support kept clothing retailer in profit during pandemic

SD Kells operates 19 stores across Northern Ireland.

INDEPENDENT fashion chain SD Kells has revealed how government support helped the family-owned clothing retailer remain in profit last year.

In a report filed with Companies House, the Co Fermanagh-based operation, which has 19 stores across the north, described trading conditions for the year to January 19 2021 as “extremely challenging”.

Turnover during the year fell by 29 per cent to £8.98 million, largely due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

But despite the significant loss in revenue, SD Kells actually reported a slight rise in pre-tax profits, which rose from £816,000 to £1m.

“A very significant portion of this increase was as a direct result of the receipt of coronavirus-related grants,” states the report.

SD Kells was among the many Covid-hit firms which turned to the UK Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) in order to keep the cash flowing during lockdown.

The directors said the current year was likely to be one of consolidation for the business, with coronavirus still affecting trading conditions.

Last year saw the family-business lose Roy Kells, who passed away in February 2020. Mr Kells took over the running of the business from his parents during the 1960s.

His son Ian Kells now serves as managing director.

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