Peter Alexander owner gets profit boost

23:12, Aug 14 2013

The retail company that owns fashion chains Just Jeans, Jacqui E, and Portmans in New Zealand and Australia has increased first-half pre-tax profit almost 15 per cent to A$52.6 million ($66 million).

Sales for Premier Retail, which is part of ASX-listed Premier Investments and also includes Jay Jays, Dotti, pyjama chain Peter Alexander, and stationery chain Smiggle, rose 2.5 per cent to A$444.7m.

The company said the result was helped by the "very strong" performance of Peter Alexander in New Zealand, while first-half online sales across the company's brands increased 51 per cent year-on-year.

Same-store sales slipped off slightly - by just under 1 per cent.

The company is enjoying growth from its younger, "innovative" brands Peter Alexander and Smiggle, while working to rejuvenate its core retail brands - Just Jeans, Portmans, Jacqui E, Dotti and Jay Jays - which have all recorded annual sales declines.

Sales at Peter Alexander in New Zealand and Australia rose almost 17 per cent to A$51.5m.

The chain's eight stores in New Zealand, where the brand was "well-accepted and growing", had performed very well, it said.

Sales at stationery chain Smiggle rose 12.4 per cent to A$54.1m.

Sales at Dotti and Portmans also lifted in the period, but Just Jeans, Jay Jays and Jacqui E all saw sales fall.

Gross margin grew to 62.8 per cent, from 61.6 per cent in the previous first-half, thanks to cheaper product-sourcing and the stronger Australian dollar.

Premier Retail chief executive Mark McInnes said second-half trading so far was within its expectations.

The company would continue to invest in technology, brands, store fitouts, service and marketing, he said.

Parent company Premier Investments reported first-half net profit of A$46.5m, up almost 21 per cent year-on-year.