Sport and outdoor provided some relief from the doom and gloom surrounding the recent 2017 financial results reported by some of South Africa’s major retail chains. The 21% revenue growth by The Foschini Group (TFG) Sports Division especially showed that some consumers, at least, are still spending. MrpSport also reported 7.7% revenue growth, which was by far the best performance in the Mr Price group, which reported a 1.7% drop in retail revenue for all divisions.
Granted, TFG Sport’s R4.8-bn sales income was boosted by very active store expansion (e.g. 70-odd new sportscene stores), but according to unconfirmed reports, their comparable store sales growth was also in double digits. This is compared to group revenues growing 11.6% globally and 8% in Africa (which includes South Africa) and TFG Africa comparable store sales growing 2.8%.
The sports division now contributes more than a fifth (20.4%) to TFG revenues, which includes international revenues. This is the second highest divisional contribution to group sales, following fashion clothing and footwear (24%).
TFG unfortunately does not report on the performances of the specific stores in the sport division – Totalsports, sportscene and Duesouth.
The ten new stores mrpSport opened during the year contributed to the division’s revenue growth to R1.4-bn – but comparable store sales decreased 1.8%. This is still better than the rest of the Mr Price group, which reported 4.7% lower comparable store revenues than the year before. But, down from 2016 when comparable store sales grew 5.3%.
The mrpSport stores performed well during the first half of the financial year – sales growing 13.3% – but this dropped in the second half, resulting in higher markdowns to move stock towards the end of the year. Despite this, unit sales were 5.5% down to 12-m.
Their Maxed footwear performed well and grew 10%, but apparel only grew 3%. Equipment and accessories sales dropped 4%. “Fitness performed well, but, outdoor declined mainly due to the pitch of product in ladies wear,” mrpSport reported. Online sales grew by 22.6%.
The growth in footwear sales – despite only stocking their own brand – can be attributed to “strong Maxed brand authenticity,” says CEO Stuart Bird. He cites the examples of Maxed sponsored athletes winning major events like the 2016 Comrades Marathon, or coming second in the Two Oceans Marathon, and rugby players wearing Maxed gear in Super Rugby matches.
The sport division now contributes 6% to the group’s credit sales, and its 4% annual growth in credit sales was the only credit growth in the company.
It is unfortunately not possible to determine what contribution the 182 Edgars Active stores made to the 6% retail sales drop in the Speciality Division for the 2017 financial year, as the performance of the different stores in the division is not reported – e.g. CNA (196 stores), mono-branded stores (88), Red Square (49) and Boardmans (40 stores).
Four Edgars Active stores were closed during the year.
The R637-m cash injection from the sale of 202 Legit stores to Retailability, which also owns Beaver Canoe, brought some relief to the debt-ridden Edcon, but this reduced fourth quarter sales in the Specialty Division by R114-m, resulting in a 15% loss in Q4.
All product categories in the Edgars division made a loss – retail sales for the year was down 6.7%, with comparable store sales down 6.6%. The later Easter holidays contributed to the heavier losses reported in the 4th quarter – namely 9.4% in retail sales and 10.7% for comparable stores – the group reports. During the period 15 new Edgars stores opened, but 9 closed. There are now 212 stores in the division.
The Edcon group’s sales declined 6.7% during the financial year – comparable store sales dropped by the same amount. They also closed several stores during the year, including 8 Edgars stores, and discontinued 11 badly-performing and expensive international brands.