Christmas icing on retail cake a focus for Briscoe

MARIA SLADE
Last updated 07:19 08/11/2012

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"Not spectacular, but not a disaster" is Briscoe Group managing director Rod Duke's prediction for this year's Christmas trading.

The operator of the Briscoes, Rebel Sport, and Living and Giving retail chains yesterday reported a 3.5 per cent rise in unaudited sales for the nine months to October of $302.2 million, up from $292.1m in the same period last year.

Same-store homewares sales rose 5.6 per cent, while sporting goods sales fell 0.27 per cent.

The Rugby World Cup, which came in the group's third quarter last year, was always going to be a hard act to follow, and the group was pleased with its 2012 performance to date, Duke said.

Sales of sporting goods surged 25 per cent to a record $35.2m in the three months to October 2011 thanks to All Blacks jerseys and related merchandise flying off the shelves. Although sales of sports goods for the third quarter this year were down 9 per cent in comparison, sales for the nine-month period were within 1 per cent of the corresponding 2011 number, he said.

"We knew we couldn't jump the [World Cup] hurdle in the third quarter, so we started on February 1 and we cut that hurdle down piece by piece, month by month.

"We've been a lot more particular about the ranges. It's about being clever about every facet of the business for the entire year."

As the firm began the crucial final quarter, it was cautiously optimistic in its outlook, he said. He was confident its full-year tax-paid profit would exceed last year's $27.5m. "I can think of no good reason why [Christmas] won't represent precisely the same proportion of my annualised volume this year as it did last year."

However, the retail scene was still difficult and while Briscoes was once seen as a bellwether for the sector, it was probably doing better than most, he said. "There's not a lot of us grazing in the green paddock at the moment."

The Briscoes homeware chain had been taking market share off its competitors and its formula of well-known brands at good prices was the key, he believed. "In my view people are well over cheapest price, poorest quality. Briscoes has been a serious beneficiary of that switch." Fairfax NZ

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- Taranaki Daily News

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