Premier to invest in global push
Premier Investments will invest heavily in its supply chain across three countries to give it the firepower it needs to help transform its two high-growth businesses - stationery store Smiggle and sleepwear chain Peter Alexander - into global brands.
Double-digit growth harnessed by a planned push by Smiggle into Britain, complementing its successful penetration into south-east Asia, will fuse with a similar ambitious drive for Peter Alexander.
It comes as Premier Investments still faces an uphill battle to turn around its struggling flagship retail businesses, Just Jeans and Jay Jays.
Premier chairman Solomon Lew on Tuesday unveiled the launch of Smiggle into Britain, saying it would initially open five to eight stores in London.
Premier reported net profits of $174.5 million in the year to July 27, up from $68.3 million during the previous 12 months. The bottom-line profit easily eclipsed the full-year profit of the nation's biggest department store, Myer, a retailer Mr Lew once oversaw when he was chairman of the Coles Myer conglomerate.
However, Premier's result included a one-off $105.2 million after-tax reclassification to include the company's 25 per cent equity investment in kitchen appliances maker Breville from early March.
Premier chief executive and former boss of upmarket department store David Jones, Mark McInnes, admitted the company's core brands were still mired in a protracted turnaround, made all the harder by a lacklustre retail sector, but the group could at least boast two growth brands in Smiggle and Peter Alexander.
Smiggle posted a 14.5 per cent rise in sales for the year, while sales at the Peter Alexander brand were up 17.7 per cent.
"We think there are very few listed retailers in the country that have brands capable of expansion as we do," Mr McInnes said.
Smiggle will open its first store in London in February and Premier has Britain as a major growth market with capacity for 200-plus stores over the next five years.
This follows a successful push into Singapore, where it has 17 stores, with Malaysia also on the drawing board. But a planned expansion into Japan is on hold.
Meanwhile, Premier's other brands, the core of its bulging fashion portfolio, are struggling in the challenging trading environment. Its Jay Jays youth fashion brand had an 11.1 per cent sales drop, while Just Jeans sales slid by 3.3 per cent, and sales at Jacqui E were down 2.3 per cent.
New management and refurbishments are expected to help stem the sales declines and drive improved earnings.
Premier declared a final dividend of 19¢ per share to take the full-year payout to 38¢ per share.