Premier gets groove back

Premier Investments, owner of Just Group and brands, has reported a significant lift in profit for the full 2012 fiscal year, despite tough trading conditions.

The company, which announced a restructure in July last year, has posted a net profit of $68.2 million for the full year to July 30 – up 68.4 per cent on the previous corresponding period.

Despite the difficult trading environment, Premier Retail (The Just Group) saw earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) increase 23 per cent to $80.4 million, with earnings for the second half of fiscal 2012 up by 130 per cent to $29.3 million.

In addition, Premier’s investment revenues increased by 26 per cent to $27.2 million.

The figures are an improvement on the company's results last year, which included more than $15 million worth of costs related to the strategic review of the company, and resulted in cost cutting measures and brand expansions.

Commenting on the results, Premier's chairman Solomon Lew said he was satisfied with the group's performance, taking into account the tough retail market at present.

“The retail environment in Australia continues to be challenging. In this context, we are pleased to be able to report a comparatively strong result to our shareholders,” he said.

“Premier’s results demonstrate its unique position with solid earnings growth, significant organic growth opportunities from existing businesses and a strong balance sheet. Together, this provides Premier with the financial strength to take advantage of new growth opportunities while continuing to seek to maximise returns from existing businesses.”

The group also identified sleepwear brand Peter Alexander and stationary chain Smiggle as two of its strongest performing brands and said the accelerated store rollout of both brands has delivered strong results.

As a result, Premier Retail has revealed the accelerated rollout will continue, with potential for a further 20 to 30 new Peter Alexander and Smiggle stores to launch each year over the next three years.

According to the group, the online launch of Peter Alexander into the Singapore market has likewise been well received, with the opening of a Peter Alexander flagship store in Singapore currently being evaluated.

Online and internet sales also increased 67 per cent over the year across Premier Retail’s other fashion brands – which include Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Jacqui E and Dotti, – as the business has continued to focus on this channel.

In particular, the company said the upgraded, now internationally competitive Dotti website has delivered “exceptional” results, with traffic, conversion and sales well up.

Going forward Premier Retail CEO Mark McInnes said the company will continue to materially invest in growing the online presence of all brands in financial year 2013 and beyond.

“With conditions for retail continuing to be difficult, it is pleasing to present a strong financial result to the market today. Once we had identified the challenges the business was facing, we moved quickly to put in place specific strategies to address each issue and opportunity. The upswing in profit achieved in fiscal 2012 demonstrates the effectiveness of our strategic review initiatives and ensures Premier is well placed for the future.”

Following the full year results, Lew revealed the directors of Premier have also invited McInnes to join the board, effective from December 1 2012.

“Mark has done an outstanding job in his time with the company in developing and implementing a detailed operating and growth strategy for our retail assets and also putting in place an unrivalled retail management team. As we go forward with our plans to grow the business it is appropriate for Mark to contribute at the board level,” he said.

“Mark will therefore become an executive director of Premier Investments and retain his existing role as chief executive officer, Premier Retail.”

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