Michael Hill ramps up global expansion

NICK KRAUSE
Last updated 11:57 02/11/2012

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Jeweller Michael Hill International is ramping up global expansion as it also undertakes a major international refurbishment of its existing 252 stores.

The NZX-listed company, which opened 15 stores in 2012, plans to open further 20 stores this financial year to June 2013, mainly in its largest market Australia and the growing Canadian market.

Chief executive Mike Parsell told shareholders at today's annual meeting that the company now has 153 stores in Australia, 53 in New Zealand, 37 in Canada and 9 in the United States. Parsell said the company aims to open one store a year in New Zealand in the next three years and 10 each year in Australia and Canada. The store refurbishment will be a "major leap forward" and will incorporate multimedia screens and hand-held technology for staff, Parsell said.

The company's strategy in the competitive US market had "a long way to go".

"We're still really in test mode there," he said. "We don't feel we're in a position to grow."

The company this year reported a net profit of $36.5 million, up 6 per cent on the previous year on group sales of $511.5m for the year to June 30. Last month it reported first quarter sales to September 30 rose $116.4m, up 14.3 per cent on the same period last year. The key December quarter, which includes Christmas sale,s will determine the group's result for the year, said Parsell.

Chairman Sir Michael Hill said that while trading conditions were trying in all its markets, there remained good potential for growth.

"There's so much opportunity out there for us but we need to keep it simple," he said.

"New Zealand is probably tougher than it's ever been but we're above that. Australia has been really tough which hit last September but things are coming right there. North America is always bloody hard."

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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