SYDNEY, AAP – Retailer Premier Investments has posted a 13 per cent drop in first-half profit after Delta lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne left most of its fashion, apparel and stationery stores shut during the initial quarter.
The owner of Smiggles, Peter Alexander and Portmans brands reported net profit of $163.6 million for the 26 weeks to January 29. The comparable half a year ago had 27 weeks.
Revenue for the half-year slipped 1.9 per cent to $770.3 million.
The first half of fiscal 2022 was” one of the most challenging and unpredictable halves of the pandemic,” chairman Solomon Lew said.
“Under government mandates, stores in our largest markets were shut for most of the first quarter, equating to 42,675 trading days during the period.”
Like other retailers, the company was again hit by the outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the final two months of the first half.
Despite the tepid results, the retail giant delivered a record 46 cents a share interim dividend for shareholders, drawing on its cash reserves to lift the payout by more than a third from a year earlier.
Sales at its Premier Retail fashion and apparel unit rose 0.6 per cent to $769.9 million. Earnings before interest and tax were up 5.5 per cent to $212 million.
This included record sales at sleepwear business Peter Alexander, with an 11.4 per cent increase to $227.4 million.
Smiggle sales, which have been affected by lockdowns and home schooling through the pandemic, bounced back 5.6 per cent to $146.3 million, as children have returned to school and COVID-19 restrictions were eased.
Portmans posted record first-half sales of $73.1 million, up 16.4 per cent.
Online sales jumped 27.3 per cent from a year ago to $195.4 million.
“There’s no doubt COVID has accelerated customers engagement online,” Premier Retail chief executive Richard Murray, who joined late last year from JB Hi-Fi, told reporters.
“Premier has made and will continue to make significant investment in people technology, digital marketing and distribution centres.”
The company said the second half had opened strongly, with Premier Retail’s total global sales up 6.2 per cent in the first five weeks.
By 1345 AEDT, Premier Investments shares were down 1.1 per cent at $28.61.