Priceline owner forecasts profit jump

Priceline, pharmacy, APIThe owner of Priceline and Soul Pattison pharmacies has flagged a record half-year profit but shares in the company have dropped after it said sales slowed in January.

Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, which owns the Priceline, Soul Pattison and Pharmacist Advice businesses, said on Wednesday it expects half-year net profit after tax to rise 14.6 per cent to a record $29 million.

Priceline was the key driver of the strong result with total sales in the year to date rising by 3.6 per cent, the group’s incoming chief executive Richard Vincent told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in western Sydney.

Vincent, who will replace Stephen Roche as chief executive on February 15, said Chistmas trade has been steady across the business with Priceline’s crucial like-for-like sales rising 1.4 per cent during Christmas.

However, he warned that the market has since “seen overall slowness” with Priceline’s like-for-like sales for the week to January 14 declining 0.6 per cent.

The group is on track to have 462 stores by the end of its financial year on August 31.

Vincent said API will look to drive growth through the expansion of Priceline, which he said has a strong pipeline of stores wanting to join the brand.

“There is no other retailer of our scale in this sector with a brand for women that has our strength of brand marketing assets,” he told shareholders.

Shares in API were down four cents, or two per cent, to $1.98 at 1527 AEDT.

AAP

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