The owner of several retail brands including Smiggle, Peter Alexander, and Just Jeans reported record underlying EBIT of $93.0 million, up 10.6 per cent on the comparable 26 week period last year ($84.1 million). Underlying net profit before tax increased 10.8 per cent to $90.9 million.
Premier saw a slight rise in half-year net profit of $71.9 million while total sales were up 7.1 per cent to $588.6 million.
Premier said it achieved the result “notwithstanding the reported difficulties experienced by other discretionary retailers in Australia, as well as, significant external events that impacted the business” including the Hobart stores that collapsed in August, unseasonably cold October and the New Zealand earthquake in November.
“These results were achieved in a half that saw several Australian discretionary retailers go out of business whilst others have reported significant decline in earnings” said Solomon Lew, chairman, Premier.
Smiggle global sales were up 26.4 per cent , with the stationery chain ending the half with 272 stores across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, England, Scotland, Wales, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Lew today announced that the chain will enter Europe with the opening of stores in the Republic of Ireland. Premier has an eye on the the US$360 million annual personal stationery market in the Republic of Ireland sees potential for between 15 and 20 stores over the next three years, which will leverage the existing Smiggle UK infrastructure.
“The sales and customer acceptance of Smiggle in each of the countries we have entered continues to be exceptional,” said Mark McInnes, CEO, Premier Investments.
“As we enter the Irish market, we are excited about the opportunity to leverage the existing Smiggle UK infrastructure for this expansion in the same way that we’ve used Singapore as a platform for our broader Asian growth strategy.”
Premier expects to have between 320 and 330 Smiggle stores trading globally before Christmas 2017.
Peter Alexander achieved sales growth for the half of 13.8 per cent, with the online business “significantly outperformed the market with sales growth of 48 per cent.”
“We will continue to enhance our world class online platform by making significant investments in technology, people and marketing, to achieve annual online sales of over $100 million by 2020,” said Lew.
During the half, Premier acquired an office building on St Kilda Road, Melbourne for $58.0 million, funded over 85 per cent via a new debt facility, which will be the location of Premier’s new head office.
Premier also announced the appointment of Nicole Naccarella as the new group GM of Jacqui E, reporting to Premier Retail’s core brand director, Colette Garnsey. Naccarella joins from Harris Scarfe where she was GM of apparel, and was previously the group GM of womenswear, intimates and accessories at Myer.
Meanwhile , Premier said “the decision was taken to strengthen and revitalise the senior leadership team of Portmans”, after Portmans saw sales down 5.8 per cent.
Linda Levy will join as GGM Portmans in early April 2017 and also report to Garnsey.
The business has also appointed Vicky Kordatou, a former business manager of Myer Miss Shop to the role of merchandise manager for woven tops, dresses and coats. Joanne Simmonds has been appointed merchandise manager responsible for knits, separates and accessories and is a former Portmans merchandise manager .
“The senior product leadership changes announced today in Jacqui E and Portmans will revitalise our product development teams and we expect to return to positive sales growth in 4Q17/ 1H18,” said McInnes .
The Premier board also declared an increased interim ordinary dividend of 26 cents per share fully franked, up 13.0 per cent (1H16: 23 cps).
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