Changes slated for SRG

 

raysSuper Retail Group has commenced a review of Ray’s Outdoors and the FCO chain in New Zealand that could see some stores closed, relocated, or rebranded.

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While a trade sale of one of the chains or parts has been reported in national media, the more likely outcome of the current review is a rejigging of the brands in Super Retail Group’s leisure retailing division.

Super Retail Group has been one of the strongest performing national chains for more than a decade with above average sales and earnings growth, but it has struggled to achieve acceptable returns from two of its acquisitions – Goldcross Cycles and Ray’s Outdoors.

Goldcross has effectively been merged into the Rebel Sport store network, after standalone stores failed to achieve profitability.

Ray’s Outdoors, which was acquired by SRG in June 2010 for $54 million, has also failed to deliver the expected return on investment, and has been subject to ongoing strategic and performance reviews.

A hybrid of the Ray’s Outdoors and Boating Camping Fishing (BCF) business models – FCO is now New Zealand’s largest retailer of fishing, camping, boating, and outdoors products, and the progress of the business is under review after three years of trading and the implementation of a repositioning strategy.

SRG has expanded aggressively with acquisitions, headlined by the successful Rebel Sport-Amart purchase in October 2011, organic growth through greenfield stores under existing brands, and the launch of the BCF and FCO chains.

SRG concedes now that its leisure retailing division is suffering from cannibalisation of sales where new stores have been launched.

SRG’s leisure retailing division’s like for like sales are down eight per cent for the first 16 weeks of the latest financial year, compared to the same period in 2013.

The group has blamed the cannibalisation of sales and weak trading conditions in mining and regional areas for the significant fall, but has also noted that both Ray’s Outdoors and FCO are trading below expectations.

With the review of the leisure retailing division underway and Ray’s Outdoors described as a continuing work in progress, SRG has curtailed capital investment on expansion and the rollout of a store of the future concept.

Four new stores are expected to open in the current financial year, with two to close and three BCF stores to be refurbished.

Peter Birtles, Super Retail Group CEO, told shareholders the division is targeting up to 25 per cent of its range as private and exclusive brands, and a 25 per cent refresh of ranges each year.

It is further developing the online offer and content, with a move from traditional media to direct marketing to boost sales, in part, utilising a database of 2.5 million customers in the BCF /Ray’s Outdoors club loyalty programs.

Other divisions

For the flagship auto retailing division, SRG has reported like for like sales for the 16 weeks to October 18  of four per cent ahead of 2013, while the sports retailing division is up three per cent.

While expansion in leisure has been checked, the group plans to open around 10 new stores and refurbish up to 45 stores in auto division, as well as add nine new stores and refresh 15 stores in the sports division.

SRG has more than 640 stores under eight retail brands, generating annual sales of more than $2 billion.

In the last financial period, it spent around $48 million developing and improving capabilities in multi-channel platforms, new loyalty programs, supply chain, and inventory management.

The company’s aim is to become one of  Australasia’s five largest retail companies.

It is currently sitting at nine, and would need to lift sales by another $1 billion to overtake Myer and either JB Hi-Fi or Aldi to become the fifth largest.

Birtles said the company is facing increased competition from global retailers setting up stores, acquiring domestic businesses, and targeting online offers to Australia and NZ.

More agile, low cost internet specialist retailers are emerging as consumers increasingly research products and buy online.

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