Holding Court outside the UK: The Investment Column
Friday 20 June 1997
Its success overseas - sales grew 25 per cent to pounds 272m despite an pounds 18m hit from currency movements - reflects a number of factors.
First, Third World economies are growing fast and a one-stop shop for kitting out houses which also offers credit is both rare and attractive. Courts also benefits from centralised purchasing, which means it can buy white goods from the US and electricals from Japan in bulk at vastly reduced prices. Courts' plans to expand in still largely untapped areas such as Indonesia look promising.
Though the UK is a stickier market, Courts has done well with like-for- like sales a healthy 24 per cent ahead and profits up by over a half to pounds 7.8m. The driver was interest-free credit and Courts' superstore format.
Though only 40 of the group's 90 UK shops are superstores, at over three times the size of the high street format and with family-friendly features such as children's play areas, they generate more than 80 per cent of UK sales.
Plans to push deeper into the North of England, opening eight to 10 stores each year for the next few years, makes sense, with scope particularly for leveraging advertising costs.
Meanwhile, building society windfalls, the housing market recovery and expansion into fast-growing Southern Ireland should pay off. NatWest forecasts pounds 32.5m, putting the shares, up 2.5p to 572.5p, on a deserved forward p/e ratio of 20. Hold on.
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 2 Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
- 3 How much sex should I be having?
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 Betting company 'refuse to pay' after student wins £1,000 from 50p bet on Roger Federer
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, reveals new look on Annie Leibovitz shot Vanity Fair cover
Russian military jets and US destroyer clash in Black Sea 'posing danger to stability'
Ed Miliband returns to the backbenches but it's all a bit awkward as he tries to avoid eye-contact with fellow Labour MPs
Photographer who performed naked shoot in China's Forbidden City sparks outrage
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
iJobs Money & Business
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...
£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...
£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...
£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...