Warning lowers Oliver


Shares in Oliver Group, the footwear retailer, plunged 25p to 37p yesterday as the company warned that losses would deepen in the second half.

The company, which blamed poor shoe sales to children returning to school, said there would be no final dividend. Oliver, which reported a pounds 3.1m deficit at the half-year, had also passed the interim payout to shareholders.

Oliver, which last month appointed the Olympus Sports chain founder Martin Watts as group managing director, issued a profits warning in June in advance of publication of the interim results on 4 September.

The company said yesterday that trading had deteriorated "rapidly" since the interims.

Oliver said the "crucial back-to-school season had been extremely poor and seriously below last year's achievement and our expectations". The company expected heavy discounting and margin pressures to continue throughout the second half.

Dennis Cassidy, the former Boddington chairman who had nursed Oliver back to health before the recent setbacks, said that deteriorating consumer confidence was to blame.

The number of UK stores had been cut to around 340 from 440 two years ago. But under Mr Cassidy, Oliver is starting to expand again, and last year launched a self-service store format called Paris.

In the six months to 1 July, Oliver made pre-tax losses of pounds 3.15m, against pounds 1.65m last time, and came despite a rise in turnover from pounds 32.2m to pounds 34.5m.