Amid consumer gloom, Brighthouse remains strong

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The Independent Online

Brighthouse, the private equity-backed retailer, has delivered a sharp uplift in half-year profits, reinforcing the continuing demand for its rent-to-own products among cash-strapped consumers in austerity Britain.

The high street chain also continues to expand rapidly and opened 15 stores over the six months to 30 September, leaving it on track to unveil 25 this financial year, creating 300 new jobs. Brighthouse, which sells products ranging from washing machines to sofas, grew underlying profits by 21.8 per cent to £20.7m.

The profits leap was driven by new stores and a 6.7 per cent rise in like-for-like sales. The company did not divulge a pre-tax profit figure.

Leo McKee, chief executive of Brighthouse, said: "In these challenging economic conditions, our half-year results reflect continuing strong demand for our products and services. It is encouraging that both our existing and our new stores are contributing to robust growth."

The group, which is owned by Vision Capital, posted a 16.3 per cent jump in sales to £127.2m, boosted by new shops.

Mr McKee said: "We will continue to focus on extending our footprint across the UK. Our growth will continue to be underpinned by generating cash flow from operations and by a solid balance sheet."

Vision Capital acquired Brighthouse in a £170m secondary buyout from Terra Firma, the private equity firm founded by Guy Hands, in July 2007.

Brighthouse has been tipped to be in line for a potential sale over the next two years.

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