Hallensteins profit up ahead of holiday period

Quarterly profit for high street retailer Hallensteins Glassons is up 7% as it heads into the crucial holiday sales period.

Hallensteins chairman Warren Bell told shareholders at the company's annual meeting yesterday the year-to-August group sales were up almost 5% at $215.5 million, with profit after tax up almost 15% to $21 million.

Cash reserves improved from $23 million a year ago to $26 million, underpinning a dividend policy of paying out 90%-95% of after-tax profits in dividends - Hallensteins increasing its full-year dividend from 31c a year ago to 33.5c, Mr Bell said.

As with The Warehouse, Briscoes and Kathmandu, Hallensteins is relying on sales over the Christmas period to boost revenue and clear stock inventories, albeit at a cost to profit margins during the highly competitive season of sales.

Chief executive Graeme Popplewell outlined three core growth strategies, including brand strengthening in key existing stores, and also developing the store network, but in selected high-profile locations.

''With the advent of the internet and levelling of the retail playing field, we will continue to see good locations get stronger, and average locations get weaker,'' Mr Popplewell said.

With the third strategy, e-commerce growth, where 18 months ago Hallensteins had zero online sales, it expects 5% of this financial year's business to come from online and over the ''next few years'' to grow to up 20% of retail turnover.

''We have invested in infrastructure to support this growth and to ensure we capitalise on this fundamental shift in consumer habit,'' Mr Popplewell said.





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