Wiped out all progress
The corona crisis came at a very bad time for Leonidas: Easter is normally the most important sales moment for the praline chain, after Christmas. Now sales were almost completely at a standstill for three months – March, April and May – while stores as food vendors were allowed to remain open.
The result: the company’s profit plummeted, CEO Philippe de Selliers told De Tijd. In the 2019-2020 financial year, which ran until June, the chocolate producer had previously expected a profit of 15 million euros, preferably twice as much as a year earlier. Until the beginning of March, it also looked as if that intention would succeed, but then the lockdowns came and gross operating profit fell back to 7 million euros.
Lost tons of chocolates
The costs were sky-high due to the corona crisis: according to De Selliers, enormous Easter supplies were ready, 200 tons of which were delivered to the stores of the franchise chain for free, some were given to the employees, but in the end a lot had to be thrown away. Protection costs for employees in the 1,300 stores across Europe also increased.
Yet there are also bright spots: Leonidas has learned that it can sell more online. Online sales even increased by thirty times around Easter. Although the potential remains limited, according to De Selliers – maximum 5% of the turnover – the praline brand will launch both home deliveries and click & collect in a few weeks.
Turnover also suddenly increased by 30% in July, thanks to Belgian customers who “like to buy locally”. However, the heat wave can now cause a significant decline. Leonidas is nevertheless determined to “support the shop owners well” and employees do not have to fear redundancies in the production department.