Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A Roots store is seen in downtown Montreal, on May 19, 2020.

Christinne Muschi/Christinne Muschi/The Globe and

Even as its online business more than tripled, Roots Corp.'s sales were cut nearly in half in its first quarter due to the impact of store closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Toronto-based retailer reported on Friday that its sales fell to $29.9-million in the thirteen weeks ended May 2, compared to $54.4-million in the same period last year.

Like many retailers, the company closed its North American stores in mid-March, and temporarily laid off staff; 74 of those 116 stores have now reopened, with new safety measures in place. The stores are also offering curb-side pickup. Recovery in store traffic has differed by region, but shoppers who are coming back have the intent to buy something, and conversion rates at the stores have gone up, according to the company.

Story continues below advertisement

Roots is now considering how to "optimize" its brick-and-mortar store footprint, CEO Meghan Roach said on a conference call to discuss the results on Friday. The retailer will also begin evaluating product design in an attempt to build sales in core product categories such as sweats, and will look for "greater agility" from its Canadian leather factory to respond to trends.

"While comfort and quality will always remain the primary focus at Roots, we have an opportunity to put more innovation into our products," Ms. Roach said, adding that the company will refocus on brand-building initiatives such as design collaborations and special collections, to attract customers.

During the pandemic, as offices scaled back and people began working from home, Roots saw higher sales for its sweatpants, especially among men -- a trend it expects to continue. With the approach of summer, Roots has seen sales shift to items such as shorts and sweat dresses.

In China, where Roots has 37 stores operated by a partner, locations had closed earlier and began to reopen during the first quarter. Its 115 partner-operated stores in Taiwan and two in Hong Kong operated at reduced hours. Traffic to the stores in Asia continues to be lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The company's partner and other sales, which includes its royalties on sales in Asia as well as its wholesale and licensing businesses, fell to $5.3-million in the quarter, down from $7.7-million in the prior year.

Roots has coped with the disruption caused by COVID-19 by cutting costs. In addition to the temporary layoffs, it reduced salaries for head offices staff, the management team and the board of directors. Roots also secured wage subsidies from the Canadian government. The company has cut down on its orders for more store inventory and has frozen capital spending. Roots did not pay rent on any of its stores in April, and has been negotiating with landlords, securing rent abatements or deferrals in some cases. Negotiations with its largest landlords are ongoing. Roots has also been working with suppliers to find other ways to reduce costs.

The company reported a net loss of $7.8-million or 18 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $9.8-million or 23 cents per share in the prior year.

Story continues below advertisement

In late April, Roots announced that seven of its nine U.S. stores would not reopen, and filed for bankruptcy for its U.S. subsidiary.

​Typically retailers report a comparable sales metric, which shows sales growth not accounted for by store openings or closures. Roots declined to report comparable sales on Friday, saying that with widespread store closures, it did not believe the figure would be "representative" of its performance.

Roots also announced on Friday that it has hired the former vice president of design for Canada Goose, Karuna Scheinfeld, as its new chief product officer. Ms. Scheinfeld will join the company in early July. The appointment ends a six-month search following the resignation of the company's chief merchant Nancy Lepler in December.

Roots has gone through a turbulent period, with high turnover in its management ranks -- its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and two chief merchants left the company last year. In December, former CEO Jim Gabel departed as the board of directors called for “renewed leadership.” Ms. Roach had been filling in as interim CEO since then, and on May 26 the company announced she had been appointed CEO. ​

Personal finance columnist Rob Carrick offers some tips to help you maintain financial flexibility as markets drop and businesses shut down over COVID-19. The Globe and Mail

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies