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Briscoe lifts first-quarter sales 5.7%, fattens margins

Briscoe Group [NZX: BGR], the homewares and sporting goods chain, said first quarter sales rose 5.7 percent on improvements in its marketing strategy and said it expects more profit growth with wider margins.

Sales rose to $114.8 million in the three months ended April 27, from $108.6 million a year earlier, the company, said in a statement. Sales at its Briscoes Homewares and Living & Giving chains rose 4.3 percent to $72.7 million, while sporting goods brand Rebel Sports increased 8.3 percent to $42.1 million. Managing director Rod Duke said profit was tracking ahead of 2013, without being specific.

"Despite the continued competitiveness across the retailing industry the gross margin percentage has tracked higher," Duke said. "Inventory is in good shape, costs have been well controlled and our online business continues to show pleasing growth in both sales and profitability."

In March, the Auckland-based company said it was "cautiously optimistic" about the year ahead, after posting a 20 percent gain in annual profit. The retail sector has been hit in recent times by increased competitiveness and aggressive promotions as the rag trade in particular tries to tackle the rise of online shopping and a high kiwi dollar, which has seen New Zealand bargain hunters shop offshore.

Briscoe will finalise its $1.5 million business interruption insurance claim after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake in the first half of its financial year. It said it had received a progress payment of $1 million, with the final negotiations on the balance of the claim to be included in its half yearly results.

The shares rose 2.9 percent to $2.45 and have declined 2.4 percent over the past year.

(BusinessDesk)