Kathmandu’s Australian stores drive sales growth in first half

Kathmandu, the outdoor equipment retailer, posted a 13 percent gain in first-half sales, driven by revenue from is biggest market of Australia.

Sales climbed to $165.9 million in the six months ended Jan. 31, from $146.7 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. Net profit rose to $4.3 million from $10.3 million.

The results are within the range the retailer first flagged on Feb. 1, which it attributed to faster sales growth and brand penetration in Australia. The company’s gross margin was unchanged in the first half from a year earlier at 62.7 percent, which reflected flat margins in Australia and reduced margins in New Zealand and the UK.

The margin on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation widened to 12.6 percent from 11.6 percent as Kathmandu kept a lid on rising operating expenses, which fell to 50.1 percent of sales from 51.1 percent a year earlier.

Australian sales jumped 22 percent to $103.5 million as the company opened nine new stores across the Tasman. Same-store sales growth was 9.6 percent. New Zealand sales rose 7.9 percent to $50 million, or up 1.3 percent on a same-store basis. UK sales declined 4.7 percent to $3.4 million.

The company didn’t give a full-year forecast, saying it was too soon to make a prediction ahead of Easter sales, one of its three major promotions in the year. The company expects to get 60 percent of sales and at least 70 percent of earnings in the second half and has previously said its full-year profit would beat the 2012 result.

Kathmandu will pay an interim dividend of 3 cents a share.

The shares rose 0.8 percent to $2.47 and have climbed 24 percent this year.

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