StockMarketWire.com - Multi-channel retailer Findel said during the seasonally quietest trading period the group has delivered a substantial improvement in bottom line performance despite lower sales, as a result of improved margins and cost savings.

The largest business, Express Gifts, has performed well with sales ahead of last year by 6.2%. Sales at other businesses have been more varied, which coupled with some timing effects and changing trends has resulted in total Group sales being slightly lower (2.2%) than the same period last year. Findel continues to anticipate another year of substantial progress and profit and margin expectations for the year remain unchanged.

Express Gifts continues its strong performance trajectory with sales growth of 6.2% versus the prior year period (with overall demand, accounting for orders taken but not yet fulfilled, up c.8%).

The Education business has maintained its overall profit performance versus prior year. Sales during April were significantly below prior year with the later Easter holidays meaning a re-phased new catalogue launch at the end of the month, some 3 - 4 weeks behind prior year.

Kitbag's performance is ahead of our expectations, boosted by improved operational management together with the World Cup and partner on-pitch success. The business recently won the right to operate the McLaren F1 retail and wholesale business from January 2015 with the official online store launching this autumn, and is now piloting Kitbag.com on Tmall.com, the Chinese B2C platform. Margins are significantly ahead of prior year and the 8.6% decline in sales is entirely a timing issue reflecting the planned delay of a number of important Premier League partner kit launches until after the World Cup. Adjusting for this effect would mean the business is in growth.

The smallest business, Kleeneze, remains challenged. The business has been impacted by unexpected surges in demand and consequential stock shortages for a range of new or promoted products in a major catalogue, resulting in the business failing to meet that demand and damaging distributor confidence. As a result sales during the period fell by 23% but the impact on Group profits was naturally muted. These stock issues have been addressed and action plans are in place to improve overall profit performance.

Outlook

The Group has seen strong year-on-year profit growth from the continued strong performance of Express Gifts and the improved control of margins and costs. Although changing trends and timing effects have impacted sales in this relatively quiet period we anticipate that these will recover leaving overall expectations for profit and margin for the full year unchanged.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com