Where Michael Hill sees the future

Sir Michael Hill: Future lies in the US

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Sir Michael Hill says the future of his listed jewellery company lies in the United States.

His comments come as his company experiments with mall kiosks in Brisbane selling only its charm accessories.

The chairman of Michael Hill International told the company's annual meeting in Auckland that Australasia will be saturated within five years but the company's future lies in the US, the world's biggest jewellery market.

"Our future, I think, will eventually lie in the United States," he says.

MHI shares (NZX: MHI) rose 1.7% by 2pm today, to $1.19, on light trading, and have jumped 37% this year.

Lucky charms

Sir Michael says the company is experimenting with boutique stores devoted to charm accessories.

"If we get this model right in the States we could have the potential for 1100 stores, straight off the bat.

"At first glance they're looking as if they could be a model that we could spin out.

"It's a world phenomenon at the moment and we're experimenting with a different format, different style, and it could be a winner."

However, MHI ceo Mike Parsell told NBR ONLINE later the charm bracelet kiosks "won't be a game-changer for us".

Canada expansion

Earlier in the meeting, Mr Parsell said the company is aiming to have 100 stores in Canada, but did not give a timeframe.

MHI also wants a lift in same-store sales in its 37 stores there.

He says Canada is the company's main focus for new store growth. "The earnings don't reflect the potential there."

Q1 lift

Last month, the company announced first-quarter revenue rose 14%, to $116.4 million, boosted by improvements in North America and Australia.

That followed the previous financial year's 5.8% profit lift, on earnings per share of 9.54 cents and a total dividend of 5.5 cents.

The NZX50 stock listed in 1987.

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