New focus on fashion helps Peacock fly high

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The Independent Online

Shares in Peacock Group set an all-time record yesterday after the discount retailer said a focus on fashion had helped clothes fly out of its stores over the summer. Its stock climbed 8.5p to 225.5p.

The company, which spread its wings into the 45-plus age group last year with the acquisition of Bonmarche, said like-for-like sales growth had outstripped rivals, soaring 8.3 per cent in the past six months.

Its performance prompted Bonmarche's founders, the Chima brothers, to cash in half the stake they received as part of the sale. Gurnaik and Gurchait Chima banked £10m from the sale of 5 million Peacock shares, cutting their stake to 5.6 per cent, but have promised not to sell any more shares for at least six months.

Peacock, which trades from 385 sites, is opening sites in within Somerfield and Kwiksave supermarkets after two trial outlets proved a success. Another five would open before Christmas, with a wider roll-out planned for next year.

Pre-tax profits at the group rose by nearly 200 per cent to £9.6m in the six months to 27 September, reflecting stronger sales and margins.