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'We will get through this', vows boss of jewellery firm Argento as profits drop

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Terrible situation: Peter Boyle

Terrible situation: Peter Boyle

Terrible situation: Peter Boyle

Denvir Holdings, the company behind Northern Ireland jewellery chain Argento, has revealed a revenue drop of 55% to £23m last year as the impact of offloading its Pandora portfolio made its mark.

And the firm, which also includes a property arm, anticipates an even more testing 2020 as the Covid-19 outbreak hits its bricks and mortar assets.

Denvir Holdings, which lists husband and wife Peter Boyle and Ciara Denvir as directors, said, despite the decrease in its 2019 results, the group performed well last year, even amid "the challenging economic environment".

Mr Boyle said this year will be a different story but vowed the company will "get through this".

Pre-tax profits were down from £14.3m to just under £249,800.

The company's flagship store in Belfast's Royal Avenue was also closed during the year to June 2019 as a result of the 2018 Primark fire. There are around 26 Argento stores in total.

Mr Boyle said: "It's a terrible situation for many businesses to be in. For us, just coming back from the Primark fire, Covid-19 is like Act Two. Bricks and mortar retailers were already operating on a 10% margin, if they were lucky, and Covid-19 has created additional uncertainty."

He explained the company is in good health to weather the storm of Covid-19, but questioned how long the Government can sustain business support schemes.

"We don't qualify for most of the business schemes because we are considered a large scale business but we have furloughed staff who will get 80% of their wages," he said.

"What we would like to see now is landlords forgoing rent and service charges when buildings aren't being used. That is something we have done as a landlord.

"We have given our tenants who are impacted by the coronavirus a three-month pardon but there are some tough landlords out there who won't budge."

Mr Boyle added: "As a company, we're in a very good position. We're a well managed business, we won't go bust. We will lose profit that we could have earned but we will be here when it's over, it's a question of what format that takes but we will get through this."

Denvir Holdings brings together a group of eight wholly owned subsidiaries of which the most prominent are Argento Contemporary Jewellery and Pyrrha Ltd.

Pyrrha trades in Scotland, while Argento is also registered in the Republic as well as having large trading outlets here.

The company saw its pay bill drop last year too from £6.2m to £3.7m, which was also a result of the sale of its Pandora stores in England and Scotland. It is also behind the Let's Go Hydro watersports business in Carryduff.

The company has diversified into offices with investments including Laganview House on the corner of Ann Street and Oxford Street through its Angus Properties division.

The company's results were released just as Mr Boyle contributed £10,000 to a Crowdfunding campaign to create face shields for frontline workers in the NHS. Organised by the team behind baby products firm Shnuggle, Hero Shield relies on donations to make the not-for-profit shields.

Mr Boyle said: "I am contributing because we feel we should be doing something. I, like many business leaders, am feeling a bit useless and under utilised. This is something I can help with. We have made the contribution and are trying to get the design and how to make it out to our business contacts around the world.

"We have sent it to RoI, USA, UK, India and Thailand. Perhaps some of these contacts will start manufacturing for their local markets as the design is open source and anyone can use it."

Belfast Telegraph