Michael Hill's exit from the US starting to pay off

Written on the 27 February 2019 by Business News Australia

Michael Hill's exit from the US starting to pay off

After shutting up shop in the United States and reducing its Australian footprint Michael Hill is starting to see some success again.

At the end of December 2018, the jewellery retailer's statutory NPAT rose by 125 per cent to $19.5 million, compared to $8.5 million at the same time a year ago.

Earnings also rose during the period by 85 per cent to hit $28.5 million.

Chair Emma Hill says these results are the reflection of a business in transition.

"The company made a series of challenging but necessary changes over the past year, as it transitioned to a new strategy focused on the core Michael Hill brand and long-term sustainable growth," says Hill.

Though statutory earnings were up, underlying earnings dipped by 16 per cent to $29.6 million.

Total group revenue for the first-half was $315.4 million, down 2.7 per cent on the prior year, as a result of weaker trading in the first four months of the half.

The group's online play continues to succeed with e-commerce sales increasing by 68.3 per cent to $9.5 million during the half.

Six Michael Hill stores opened, and three under-performing stores were closed during the period, meaning Michael Hill now has 311 stores as of 31 December 2018.

A new CEO, Daniel Bracken, joined Michael Hill in mid-November after Phil Taylor resigned because of health issues. Emma Hill says that Bracken has already brought the business forward.

"Since joining the company in mid-November, Daniel has already proven to be an outstanding addition and the Board is energised by his early contributions and insights," says Hill.

"The company enters this new era under Daniel with plenty of enthusiasm, but also with a number of key learnings from the past 12 months."

"A shift away from a high frequency of deep discount event days had a material impact on revenues during the July to October period. A more integrated approach to our promotional and sales activities was made ahead of the Christmas trading period, which resulted in a strong turnaround in sales momentum across November and December, but not at a sufficient level to offset the lower trading volumes experienced in the four months prior."

Shares in Michael Hill are up 8.11 per cent to $0.60 per share at 11.12am AEDT.

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