Body Shop surprises with 10m pounds profit

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The Independent Online
BODY SHOP, the natural toiletries group headed by Anita Roddick, yesterday confounded City sceptics when it announced better-than-expected interim profits, writes Heather Connon.

The increase, from pounds 8.3m to pounds 10m before tax, was fuelled by its overseas operations, which now account for 55 per cent of its business. But in Britain it is still suffering from declining sales if new space is excluded.

Gordon Roddick, chairman, said that the 5 per cent decline was an improvement since the low point last November, when sales were dropping by about 10 per cent. The decline was now only marginal. He attributed the better performance to a change in shop layout and a range of new products.

The group is selling its 65.6 per cent stake in Eastwick Trading, which operates its Benelux operations, to the minority partner for pounds 2.1m. Eastwick will continue as franchisee and the pounds 900,000 profit on the deal will be included in the full-year results.

Earnings per share were 3.4p (2.9p) and the dividend was increased 10.3 per cent to 0.75p. The shares gained 13p to 188p.

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