Briscoe first-quarter sales rise 3.6% as Rebel Sport kicks off strong start to the year

Briscoe Group's first-quarter sales rose 3.6 percent as the retailer's Rebel Sport chain was a swift starter in the year, outperforming the flagship homeware division.

Group sales increased to $146.4 million in the three months ended April 29 from $141.3 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Of that, Rebel Sports sale climbed 6.6 percent to $58.4 million, while the homeware division's revenue increased 1.6 percent to $87.9 million. Briscoe opened two Rebel Sport stores and two Briscoes Homeware stores while closing three other sites in the period. Same-store sales rose 2 percent.

"Briscoe Group has made a positive start to the current financial year, highlighted by strong sporting goods sales performance and continued double-digit online sales growth," managing direct Rod Duke said. "New Zealand retail remains highly competitive so for the group to achieve positive sales growth with bottom line profit tracking marginally ahead of last year's first quarter is a satisfactory start to this new financial year."

The retailer delivered a new record profit in the latest financial year, generating enough new sales to offset a squeeze on margins in what Duke has previously described as an intensely competitive retail environment.

Briscoe shares increased 0.3 percent to $3.43, having declined 0.9 percent since the start of the year.

Duke today said trading patterns in the latest period were "significantly different" to a year earlier due to the timing of the Easter holiday falling outside school holidays, a sentiment echoed by eftpos terminal provider Paymark in figures today showing a decline in retail spending last month.

"The changing dates over Easter between 2017 and 2018 may also have had wider effects on spending as there was a noticeable decline in spending amongst housing-related and accommodation merchants in April, following surges in activity in March," Paymark said.