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Michael Hill profit sinks 86% on US exit, Emma & Roe closure costs

Monday 27th August 2018

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Michael Hill International's full-year profit tumbled 86 percent on Emma & Roe and US closure costs but the retailer says its new strategy has it positioned for growth. 

The Brisbane-based company said net profit was A$4.6 million in the year to June 30 versus A$32.6 million in the prior year after it opted to wind up its US stores and close down the Emma & Roe chain. Those one-off costs - including the write-down and disposal of assets and lease settlement costs - were A$25.5 million. Stripping out those costs, earnings before income and tax fell 17 percent to A$40.1 million. 

"The period was one of recalibration and repositioning for the group, which included the exit of the US and Emma & Roe businesses. While the cost of exiting these businesses had a material one-off impact on the financial result, Michael Hill is a stronger and more resilient business today with a clear strategy for long-term growth," said chief executive Phil Taylor. 

As of June 30, all US stores were closed. Of the 30 Emma and Roe stores, 24 stores were closed by June 30. The closure programme for the final six Emma & Roe stores is still in progress. The company had 321 stores trading on June 30, including those six. 

The company said operating revenue from continuing operations lifted 4.4 percent to A$575.5 million while group profit from continuing operations fell 21 percent to A$34.8 million. 

The retailer said it will pay a final dividend of 2.5 Australian cents a share on Sept. 28, bringing the full year dividend to 5 Australian cents, unchanged on the year. 

Regarding its individual markets, Australia increased revenues 1.2 percent to A$325.7 million. However, it said "challenging retail conditions remain in Australia", which resulted in a 0.9 percent decline in same-store sales and 5.9 percent slide in ebit to A$48.6 million.

Michale Hill plans to invest additional capital and management resource into strengthening its Australian operations and said in FY19, the Australian segment offers potential for improved ebit performance.

New Zealand revenue rose 2.7 percent to $125.2 million, with a 2.3 percent lift in same store sales. 

The New Zealand business is expected to continue to perform well and will benefit from increased online revenue, extended product offering, improved margins, a continued refinement of the property portfolio and improved cost efficiencies, together with exploring opportunities to tap the growing Asian consumer market, it said. 

Performance in Canada was strong with a 16 percent lift in revenue to C$130.8 million and same store sales growth of 3.8 percent, it said. 

Looking ahead, Michael Hill said it completed the strategic review and identified five key strategic shifts to reposition the company from a traditional retailer to a so-called "differentiated omni-channel brand." The aim of the omni-channel is to ensure that customers have the same shopping experience whether they are on their mobile phone or in a physical shop. 

The company is continuing to focus on e-commerce, with online sales increasing 57.4 percent to A$10.3m and now account for 1.8 percent of total group revenues. It is planning additional investment and said it will aim to "evolve" the online experience by integrating the digital and social channels with the store network.

Total planned capex for the year will be around A$25 million. 

It also said it is committed to opening a minimum of 10 new stores in the current financial year across the three markets, subject to site availability. 

It did not provide guidance for the current year. 

The stock last traded at $1.07 and has fallen 18 percent over the past 12 months. 


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