'Flagship' Briscoes' 7% sales rise boosts profit 9%

Homeware and sports goods retailer Briscoes Group remains the ''flagship'' of the listed retail sector, booking increased sales of almost 7% for the past financial year, boosting its profit by 9%.

In an unaudited market update this week, for the trading year to January 26, Briscoes booked a 6.82% sales increase for the year, from $452.7 million to $483.6 million, managing director Rod Duke said in a statement.

After-tax profit was estimated to be up 9%, from last year's $30.47 million to more than $33 million.

The group's homeware division (Briscoes) increased sales by 6.41% during the year and the sporting goods division (Rebel) by 7.68%.

''To exceed 7% same-store sales growth for the quarter and 5% for the full financial year is a tremendous achievement by the team,'' Mr Duke said.

As with other recent retailer results, the performance of online sales is becoming a larger contributor to the balance sheet.

Briscoes' shares were unchanged at $2.37 after the announcement.

Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre said that the Briscoes result was ''strong'' and confirmed the company's status as the ''flagship'' of the listed retail sector.

''There have been disparate results from the other retailers so far for the season,'' Mr McIntyre highlighted.

Hallenstein Glasson has had two downgrades in as many months, The Warehouse has issued a downgrade last week, Postie Plus' trading had been ''sluggish'', while Kathmandu had come in below analysts' expectations in some areas, he said.

Forsyth Barr broker Haley Van Leeuwen said the fourth quarter was a critical quarter for all in the retail sector and Briscoes ''certainly hasn't disappointed'', group sales being up 8.11% on a year ago.

Mr Duke said he was ''very pleased'' with sales, margins and overall performance for the final quarter of 2013 given it was ''in a market which continues to be driven by aggressive promotional activity''.

''Trading was steady in the run-up to Christmas and particularly strong immediately prior to and post Christmas.''

For the full year, online sales finished almost 100% up on the previous year, Mr Duke said.

''This growth ... appears to have had no adverse impact on in-store sales and reflects the continued trends towards customers' desire for choice in channels as well as choice within product ranges,'' he said.

There was ''clearly considerable potential'' for strong ongoing growth in Briscoes Group's online sales for the foreseeable future, he said.

Briscoes will deliver its final full-year report on March 6.

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