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The profit for the six months ended July was $28 million compared with $28.3m the year before, while revenue fell 3.5 percent.
Sales at its homeware and Rebel Sport stores fell 35 percent in the first three months, but then rebounded 28 percent in the second quarter.
Briscoe’s managing director Rod Duke said the company’s offering and cooler weather helped to sustain sales and lift margins.
“The category we operate in is about the home and I think that’s one of the first things people choose to spend on when they can’t travel and can’t get to the restaurants.”
He said clothing sales had been given a boost by chilly weather and that had seen stock shifted and helped to lead to a rise in margins.
Online sales nearly doubled during the lockdown, which Duke said would not be sustained, but might lead to digital trade accounting for 15 percent of sales compared to the current 10 percent.
The company received $11.5m in wage subsidies, which ensured all staff were retained on full pay.
“If I hadn’t had the $11.5m in subsidy I would have had to take 11 and a half million off my profit and would have had to settle for a significantly lower profit and the temptation, of course, is to lay people off,” Duke said.
He said the company was in a strong financial position and needed no strengthening of its balance sheet. It has increased its interim dividend by half a cent to 9 cents a share.
Duke said its new trading year had started strongly and revenue was ahead of last year despite the return to partial lockdowns, and said he was hoping to match or beat last year’s full year profit.
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