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Briscoe first quarter sales dip

Tuesday 10th May 2011

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Briscoe Group sales dipped in the first quarter, affected by the devastating February earthquake in Christchurch, and by Easter Monday and Anzac Day falling on the same day.

The company - whose stores include Briscoes Homeware, Living & Giving, Urban Loft, and Rebel Sport - reported $96.3 million in sales for the first trading quarter which ended on May 1, down 0.55% from a year earlier.

On a same store basis group sales for the quarter were 0.68% above the first quarter for last year, Briscoes said today.

The same store sales calculation excluded four Living & Giving stores closed within the past year, and also seven Christchurch-based stores from February 22 when the deadly earthquake struck the city.

Despite relatively flat sales, the gross margin percentage and earnings before interest and tax for the first quarter were ahead of year earlier results, the company said.

Sales for the group's homeware segment fell 1.31% to $62.5 million, while sporting goods sales rose 0.9% to $33.8 million. On a same store basis, homeware sales fell 0.53% for the quarter while sporting goods sales were 2.92% ahead of last year.

Group managing director Rod Duke said the Christchurch earthquake adversely affected the company's sales performance and resulted in a Briscoes Homeware store ceasing to trade while it was demolished and rebuilt.

All six of the other Christchurch-based group stores were now fully operational and trading well after the initial disruption caused by the quake.

Sales were also affected by Anzac Day and Easter Monday falling on the same calendar day, Duke said.

Both days were historically strong sale days for the group, so losing the ability to promote them separately, certainly did not help total sales.

"Notwithstanding this, we are happy with the result for this quarter given the competitiveness of the retail market and the continued unpredictability of sales levels," Duke said.

"Briscoe Group has made a positive start to the current year with strong gross profit margins mitigating the softer sales and improving the bottom line performance in comparison to last year's first quarter."



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