Michael Hill lifts profit 3.4 per cent

Michael hill 2Michael Hill International, the jewellery chain business founded by its namesake, posted a 3.4 per cent increase in first-half profit as it opened more stores.

Profit rose to A$25.8 million (NZ$27.1m), or 6.66 cents per share, in the six months ended December 31, from A$24.9m, or 6.48 cents, a year earlier, the Brisbane, Australia-based company said in a statement.

The jewellery retailer opened eight new Michael Hill branded stores in the period, taking the total to 305, and eight new Emma & Roe branded stores, taking the total to 24. That helped boost revenue 5.4 per cent to A$327.5m, while same-store sales for the group advanced just 0.8 per cent to A$306m. The company plans to open another 10 Michael Hill stores and six Emma & Roe stores in the second half of the year. Its gross profit margin fell to 63.8 per cent from 64.2 per cent.

“Overall this was a reasonable result for the group given the difficult and lumpy trading conditions across most markets,” the company said.

Michael Hill will pay a first-half dividend of A$2.5c on March 31. It paid a dividend of NZ$2.5c in the year earlier period, before shifting its main listing to Australia.

Chief financial officer Phil Taylor remains interim chief executive as the company searches for a replacement for Mike Parsell, who resigned in August last year.

In New Zealand, the Michael Hill brand added one store, taking the total to 53. Ebit lifted 7.7 per cent to NZ$16.5m even as sales fell 1.5 per cent to NZ$66.9m, reflecting a focus on costs. The profit margin improved to 24.7 per cent from 22.6 per cent.

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