Already butchered, having been sliced downwards from 94.5p in late 2015, shares in value butcher Crawshaw (CRAW:AIM) collapse a further 27.1% to a mere 1.75p as the Rotherham-headquartered fresh meat seller concedes it may need to raise cash to keep the lights on.

The alarming news is the latest blow for shareholders in Crawshaw, whose sales and profits have been sliced apart amid discounter competition in recent years in a tough UK retail market that’s only getting tougher.

CRAWSHAW’S CASH-STRAPPED

Today’s brief statement is the budget butchery chain’s response to media speculation over a potential financial restructuring and equity fundraising which would no doubt dilute long-suffering shareholders.

Ominously, the statement reads: ‘The board confirms that it is considering a number of remedial actions to address the key issues it has identified, which may include raising additional funding through an equity capital raising. No decision has yet been made by the board on these matters and the company will update the market in due course.’

ROTTING RETURNS

Crawshaw’s new management team of CEO Jim Viggars and numbers man Nick Taylor have completed their review of the business and are driving through changes to restore growth and profitability, a programme which includes reviewing the AIM micro cap’s structure and investment in traditional high street outlets.

The performance of Crawshaw’s high street shops has suffered due to hotter competition and lower footfall, with high business rates and rising shop rents also munching into returns.

Crawshaw has also been forced into margin-crimping price cuts to stay competitive, though it has high hopes for its successful factory shop format, apparently ‘central to future profitable growth’.

WORRYING DEVELOPMENTS

In August, Crawshaw served up a sentiment souring profit warning, downgrading market expectations towards flat full year sales and widened annual losses of around £3m.

Subsequent half year results revealed a widened £1.7m loss before tax (2017: £1.2m) on group sales down 1.9% to £21.6m, with like-for-like sales slumping by an alarming 13.2%. Crawshaw’s cash pile had eroded from £4.7m on 28 January this year to £3.3m by the 29 July half year end. That was still a decent cash cushion, so the pressure on Crawshaw’s finances must have intensified in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, nominated adviser (Nomad) and broker Peel Hunt resigned, although Crawshaw flagged advanced discussions with a replacement Nomad and said WH Ireland (WHI:AIM) had been appointed as joint broker.

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Issue Date: 26 Oct 2018