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Briscoe Group 1st-qtr sales slip 0.6%, margins improve

Briscoe Group 1st-qtr sales slip 0.6%, margins improve in `competitive’ retail market

May 10 (BusinessDesk) - Briscoe Group Ltd. reported a 0.6% decline in first-quarter sales while saying its gross margins have improved, helping lift earnings in the face of a competitive retail market.

Revenue was $96.3 million in the three months ended May 1, down from $96.8 million in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement today. Sales at stores open at least 12 months rose 0.7%.

Shares of Briscoe have gained 11% this year, outpacing the broader NZX. The homeware and sporting goods retailer, which is 75% owned by managing director Rod Duke, said sales in the latest quarter were dented by Anzac Day and Easter Monday falling on the same day and from the disruptions stemming from the Feb. 22 earthquake in Christchurch.

“We’re happy with the result for this quarter, given the competitiveness of the retail market and the continued unpredictability of sales levels,” Duke said. “Briscoe has made a positive start to the current year, with strong gross profit margins mitigating the softer sales and improving the bottom line performance.”

The shares traded yesterday at $1.50 and are rated ‘hold’ based on the consensus of three recommendations compiled by Reuters.

Sales from the retailer’s homeware stores fell 1.3% to $62.5 million in the first quarter while revenue from its rebel sporting goods outlets rose 0.9% to $33.8 million. On a same-store basis, homeware sales fell 0.5% and sporting goods sales rose 2.9%.

Duke said one Christchurch Briscoes Homeware store ceased trading after the quake, which required its building to be demolished and rebuilt. The other six outlets are back in operation and “trading well after the initial disruption caused by the quake.”


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