After a wave of Christmas trading updates from major retailers earlier in the week, investors faced a mini-deluge of reports from mid-market retailers including B&M European Value Retail (BME), JD Sports (JD.), Joules (JOUL:AIM) and Superdry (SDRY) to end the week.
B&M reported 8.8% growth in UK sales for the 13 weeks to 28 December, with like-for-like growth of 0.3%, against what it called ‘a challenging broader retail market’, and defended its decision not to engage in early discounting unlike many of its rivals.
Heron Foods, B&M’s value convenience chain subsidiary, continued to trade well with sales also up 8.8% thanks to ‘solid’ like-for-like growth.
According to chief executive Simon Aurora the firm saw ‘a positive start to January trading’, although he also cautioned that adverse weather could play a part in the fourth quarter outcome. That seemed to dampen investor enthusiasm, sending the shares down 6% to 374p.
Footwear retailer and self-styled ‘king of trainers’ JD Sports delivered a more upbeat message with positive like-for-like trends across the group, especially overseas, and a bullish outlook for full-year earnings.
Due to the increasing importance of the international business and the different timing of post-Christmas sales some of its markets, trading for the full year still depends to a degree on trading in those markets through the remainder of January.
However, executive chairman Peter Cowgill confirmed that full year pre-tax profits would be ‘in the upper quartile of current market expectations’. After adjusting for the impact of the transition to IFRS 16, analysts see profits ranging from £403m to £433m. Shares added 0.8% to 833p.
ROCKY HORROR SHOW
AIM-listed fashion brand Joules dropped a major clanger with sales down 4.5% over the Christmas period, ‘significantly behind expectations’ according to chief executive Nick Jones.
Faced with a difficult trading environment, the firm shot itself in the foot ‘due to an internally generated stock availability issue through the important end of season sale event’, hampering online sales.
The brand has taken the decision to revamp its supply chain operations, pushing up costs in the short term. This, combined with ‘second half cost headwinds’ due to US-China tariffs, means that full year pre-tax profits will be ‘significantly below market expectations’.
Unsurprisingly, analysts took an axe to their forecasts after the report and the shares responded in kind, shedding 28% to 163p.
Bringing up the rear, Superdry - the ‘global brand obsessed with design, quality and fit’ - delivered a bleak trading update for the 10 weeks to 4 January with execution errors also compounding tough trading conditions.
On top of ‘unprecedented levels of promotional activity’ and subdued consumer demand, Superdry ran out of some of its best-selling products and at the same time failed to shift some of its older products resulting in an excess of stock.
As a result of the sales shortfall, pre-tax profit guidance has been slashed to £0 to £10m meaning that profits could be wiped out entirely. Shares fell as much as 25% to 357p in early trading but recovered to 395p, a drop of 16%, an hour after the open.