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WH Smith PLC SMWH has now become a travel company rather than a high street retailer, as for the first time, Travel revenue has overtaken High Street revenue. Travel has now become the largest part of the group producing over 60% of group trading profit. Preliminary results for the year to the 31st August show a rise of 7% in group profit before tax and a 10% increase in the dividend, which is accompanied by a share buy back of up to 50m. The company describes its performance as good, despite total revenue for the year being completely flat, with a like for like 4% increase in travel revenue, offsetting the 4% decline in the High Street.
SKY plc SKY has made a strong start to the year with excellent profit growth in the first quarter despite a fall in the UK advertisng market and pressure on consumer spending. Like for like revenue grew by 5% and EBITDA by 11%. In fact whichever part of the business you look at, it has produced growth. Purchases of pay as you go sports and entertainment have risen by 12% and viewings of pay channels are up by 10%. Further growth is expected as the year progresses and the key target is now Europe.
Hays plc HAS produced another record quarterly net fee performance, with widespread growth throughout the group. Continental Europe, again led by Germany, and the rest of the World saw a rise of 13% and 13 additional countries had growth rates in excess of 10%. The UK and Ireland were again laggards with a mere 1%, the temp business being flat and negatively affected by tough market conditions in the public sector. There were also wide and unexplained regional variations in the UK with the South West and Wales up by 14% but the East of England showing a steep decline of 11%
W.H. Smith SMWH claims a strong performance across the group for the 21 weeks to 21st January, presumably hoping that nobody will go as far as reading the actual figures which show that High Street revenue actually fell by 4% and only travel revenue with a 10% increase, saved the day enabling Smiths to show a like for like sales increase of 1% and a total increase of 2%. As a result of the success of the travel division, the group expects that profit growth for the group as a whole will be slightly ahead of plan.
Restaurant Group RTN admits to a catalogue of management failures which led to a fall of 5.9% in 4th quarter trading which continued to be challenging and compares badly with a decline of 3.9% over the 53 weeks to1st January. The decline is to be countered by improving its proposition and its operating processes, building a better business and delivering an attentive and engaging service, One can only hope that the people who failed to cope with the problems in 2016 will be able to deal with them in 2017, The first half of which is expected to be difficult and no improvement showing until towards the end of the year.
Koovs KOOV is enjoying another year of excellent growth with sales for the 9 months to 31st December showing a rise of 101% and traffic, registered users and social media all up by 100%. The success of its premium party dress collection which sold out in record time, 59% of it within three days of launch has left the company excited about prospects for 2017
McCarthy & Stone MCS saw legal completions for the 20 weeks to the 20th January fall by 2% compared to the previous year as a result of a lower forward order book and a slight slowing in sales momentum since results were announced on the 15th November. Year to date reservations are currently running ahead and are expected to bring in an extra 5% revenue, due to price increases. Profit before tax for 2017 will be more than usually weighted towards the second half.
Staffline Group STAF is increasing its final dividend by 29% after a year of strong organic growth which saw a rise in revenue of 26%. Underlying profit before tax rose by 30% and undiluted earnings per share by 23%. The company’s success means that it has increased its market share “more than ever”.