Holding Court outside the UK: The Investment Column

Courts' relentless success as an international retailer explains its lofty rating. While the likes of Laura Ashley and even Marks & Spencer have struggled in expanding outside the UK, Courts, with its cheap sofas, refrigerators and carpets, has, perhaps surprisingly, gone down a storm in far-off places such as South-east Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean, which together make up more than 80 per cent of profits. Meanwhile Courts has managed to maintain respectable growth in the tougher UK market.

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before