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KINGFISHER REPORTS ROBUST PERFORMANCE IN A DIFFICULT CLIMATE FOR RETAILING. PROFITS INCREASE BY 3 PERCENT TO 221.8 MILLION POUNDS

 KINGFISHER REPORTS ROBUST PERFORMANCE IN A DIFFICULT CLIMATE FOR RETAILING. PROFITS INCREASE BY 3 PERCENT TO 221.8 MILLION POUNDS
 LONDON, March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Kingston plc today released the following:
 Financial Highlights - Year to Feb. 1, 1992
 -- Profit before tax and exceptional items 221.8 million pounds
 sterling (215.3 million pounds) +3.0 percent
 -- Retail profits 205.4 million pounds (200.8 million pounds)
 +2.3 percent
 -- Earnings per share 31.6 pence (30.9 pence) +2.3 percent
 (Fully diluted, before exceptional items)
 -- Total dividend for the year 13.0 pence (12.2 pence)
 +6.6 percent
 -- Gearing reduced from 24 percent to 11 percent
 Commenting on the results, Geoffrey Mulcahy, chairman and chief executive said:
 "It is a testament to the strength of Kingfisher that, despite extremely difficult trading conditions, profits have still risen to 221.8 million pounds before tax and exceptional items.
 This has been achieved by increasing sales and market share in our retail operations and by productivity gains throughout the group.
 Cash management has been a priority and another period of strong cash generation has enabled us to reduce net borrowings from 231 million pounds to 119 million pounds, with gearing cut from 24 percent to 11 percent.
 We have again raised the final dividend, this time by 7.1 percent to 9.0 pence making a total for the year of 13.0 pence against 12.2 pence previously. This not only reflects the robust performance given the trading climate but underlines our continued confidence in the future."
 Review of Operating Company Performance
 B&Q, in difficult trading conditions for the DIY market generally, increased sales by 13.6 percent to 1,029 million pounds with like for sales increasing by 9.1 percent. There was a 5.6 percent drop in profit to 90.3 million pounds compared with 1990/91. B&Q estimate that during the year it increased its market share by 12 percent while the DIY market itself grew by only 2 percent.
 Comet reported a 20 percent increase in trading profit from 7.6 million pounds to 9.1 million pounds on sales down 7.6 percent largely due to store rationalization. Comet has a clear lead in out-of-town superstores and is rapidly re-positioning its store portfolio and product range to be ready to take advantage of the expected upturn in demand when the UK moves out of recession. Overall, the market was flat, although there were periods of significant growth in March and December/January.
 Superdrug increased its market share in toiletries from 7.8 percent to 8.4 percent. Sales rose from 520 million pounds to 559 million pounds and profits rose marginally to 34.6 million pounds. The number of store openings continues with a further 27 planned for this year on top of the 23 opened last year. Superdrug now have 660 stores.
 Woolworths' results were excellent with a 13.3 percent increase in profits. The profits were driven by productivity improvements in product handling, distribution and store operations, and tight cost control. Entertainment, confectionery and kidswear were the top performing sectors with sales growths of 11 percent, 8 percent and 8 percent respectively.
 Chartwell Land, the group's property investment and development arm, not unexpectedly produced lower profits as a result of the depressed state of the property market throughout 1991. However, unlike many competitors, Chartwell did achieve some development profits in very difficult trading conditions. The annual valuation of the investment property portfolio resulted in a devaluation of only 25.4 million pounds.
 Kingfisher ended the year in a very strong financial position with net debt reduced from 231 million pounds to 119 million pounds; gearing down from 24 percent to 11 percent; and interest cover of 13.1 times. The dividend cover is 2.6 times.
 Looking To The Future Mulcahy said:
 "Looking ahead, social trends suggest that retailers will face fierce competition for their share of consumer expenditure and so we cannot expect retail sales to outstrip the general level of economic growth as they did in the 1980's.
 "In these more difficult conditions, it will only be the brand leaders who have the key ingredients for outperformance. They will be the ones to drive the market. They will be able to respond fastest to changing customer needs and offer genuine value for money. And they will be the best equipped to regenerate themselves as their markets evolve.
 "Brand leadership is what Kingfisher is all about. We are leaders in our chosen markets; we've built businesses with real competitive advantages and we are constantly improving their efficiency.
 "We are more than holding our own in a very difficult market and today I am even more convinced of our resilience and our potential."
 The board is recommending a final dividend of 9.0 pence (8.4 pence) net of associated tax credit which, together with the interim dividend of 4.0 pence paid on Nov. 1, 1991, will make a total dividend for the year of 13.0 pence (12.2 pence). The final dividend will be paid to shareholders on the register on June 5, 1992.
 Details of the group profit and loss account, balance sheet and cashflow statement are attached.
 The annual report will be published in May 1992. The annual general meeting will be held in London on Wednesday, June 3, 1992.
 KINGFISHER PLC AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES
 Summary of Group Results
 (Pounds in millions - except earnings per share)
 Year ended Feb. 1 1992 1991
 Turnover
 Retail 3,301.6 3,117.1
 Property 87.2 118.3
 Total 3,388.8 3,235.4
 Operating Profit
 B&Q 90.3 95.7
 Comet 9.1 7.6
 Superdrug 34.6 34.5
 Woolworths 71.4 63.0
 Total 205.4 200.8
 Chartwell Land
 Development profits 1.9 11.6
 Investment income 37.2 42.8
 Total 39.1 54.4
 Other (10.9) (9.8)
 Profit before interest 233.6 245.4
 Interest (11.8) (30.1)
 Profit before exceptional items 221.8 215.3
 Exceptional items (A) 5.9 37.2
 Profit before taxation 227.7 252.5
 Taxation (61.5) (63.7)
 Profit before extraordinary items 166.2 188.8
 Extraordinary items -- (4.4)
 Profit for year 166.2 184.4
 Earnings per share - basic (B) 35.2pence 42.1pence
 Earnings per share - fully diluted
 before exceptional items (B) 31.6pence 30.9pence
 KINGFISHER PLC AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES
 Consolidated Balance Sheet
 (Pounds in millions)
 At Feb. 1 1992 1991
 40.9
 Total 956.4 1,019.1
 Current Assets
 Development work in progress 134.3 142.2
 Stocks 505.0 509.0
 Debtors 231.9 165.0
 Investments 128.7 84.1
 Cash at bank and in hand 210.0 75.1
 Total 1,209.9 975.4
 Creditors
 Amounts falling due within one year (851.0) (745.2)
 Net current assets 358.9 230.2
 Total assets less current liabilities 1,315.3 1,249.3
 Creditors
 Amounts falling due after more
 than one year (233.0) (274.7)
 Total 1,082.3 974.6
 Capital And Reserves
 Called up share capital 120.8 113.5
 Reserves 961.5 861.1
 Total 1,082.3 974.6
 KINGFISHER PLC AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES
 Summary Consolidated Cash Flow Statement
 (Pounds in million)
 Year ended Feb. 1 1992 1991
 Net cash flow from operating activities 239.8 234.2
 Returns on investment and servicing
 of finance (77.5) (90.1)
 Taxation (64.9) (70.3)
 Investing activities (54.7) (104.2)
 Net cash inflow/(outflow) before financing 42.7 (30.4)
 Financing (25.4) 85.8
 Increase in cash and cash equivalents 17.3 55.4
 Summary Of Net Borrowings
 At End Of Year
 Cash 210.0 75.1
 Overdrafts (117.4) (21.7)
 Bills payable (21.9) --
 Total cash and cash equivalents 70.7 53.4
 Investments 128.7 84.1
 Loans (318.6) (369.0)
 Total (119.2) (231.5)
 At start of year (231.5) (251.1)
 Decrease in net borrowings 112.3 19.6
 NOTES:
 (A) The net exceptional profit of 5.9 million pounds is made up of profit on the disposal of properties used by Kingfisher retail businesses of 20.6 million pounds (1991: 37.2 million pounds) and exceptional costs of 14.7 million pounds relating to the restructuring of the Comet and Titles retailing chains. 3.7 million pounds of the exceptional costs relate to restructuring costs incurred in the year to Feb. 1, 1992, while the remaining 11.0 million pounds represent provisions for restructuring that will take place during the year to Jan. 30, 1993.
 (B) The calculation of earnings per share is based on the profit before extraordinary items and the weighted average number of shares in issue during the year and ranking for dividend of 471.6 million (1991: 448.1 million.)
 Fully diluted earnings per share before exceptional items allows for the full exercise of all outstanding options and conversion of loan stock and is based on adjusted earnings of 166.9 million pounds (1991: 162.2 million pounds) on 527.6 million shares (1991: 524.7 million.)
 (C) The summary of group results, consolidated balance sheet and summary consolidated cash flow statement shown in the charts above are an extract from the group's statutory accounts upon which the auditors have given an unqualified opinion. The statutory accounts will be filed with the Registrar of Companies in due course.
 -0- 3/25/92
 /CONTACT: Nigel Whittaker of Kingfisher plc, 071-724-7749/ CO: Kingfisher plc ST: IN: REA SU: ERN


SM-OS -- NY015 -- 1488 03/25/92 11:46 EST
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