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Dillard’s Highlights COVID Recovery at Annual Shareholders Meeting

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Dillard’s CEO William Dillard II said Saturday the Little Rock retailer is much stronger now than it was three years ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic clouded the department store chain’s outlook.

He touted that in the last three years the department store chain has returned $1.8 billion to shareholders.

“I’m still actually impressed by that,” Dillard said during the company’s annual meeting held at the retailer’s headquarters. The annual meetings are traditionally brief. This year’s lasted about five minutes.

Dillard reminded the shareholders that starting in March 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic, Dillard’s had to start temporarily closing stores. And by early April 2020, all Dillard’s stores were closed.

The company’s first quarter in 2020 didn’t have “many good numbers,” Dillard said during the meeting. At the end of April 2020, the company had lost $129 million in the last 12 months.

At that time, the company was trying to make sure it was open the next day, Dillard said.

But then, the company began to rebound as Dillard’s stores started reopening in May 2020. By June 2, of that year, all the stores had reopened.

The Little Rock retailer’s stock price soared from $25.88 to $278 during the three-year period that ended May 19. The stock price has cooled since then, hitting $417.86 in early February.

At the end of April, Dillard’s reported earning $842 million in the previous 12 months.

Between May 15, 2020 and Saturday, the three-year shareholder return was $1.8 billion, according to a company slide presentation during the shareholder meeting. The amount of shares repurchased was $1.2 billion and dividends totaled $600 million.

“We had a good balance sheet three years ago,” Dillard said. “It’s one reason we were able to survive the trials of COVID.”

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