Clicks Group said on Thursday it had increased its total dividend by 15.7% to 272.0 cents per share, contributing to a total shareholder return of 35.3% for the year to the end of August.
The group – whose brands include the national pharmacy, health and beauty retail chain Clicks and the franchise brands of The Body Shop, GNC and Claire’s – said: “The group’s retail businesses, in particular Clicks, delivered another strong trading performance in 2016 as all brands strengthened their competitive positions and reported market share gains.”
Profit for the year was 14.6% higher at R1.09 billion on turnover that had increased by 9.5% to R24.2 billion. Headline earnings per share came in at 462.4 cents, a 15.8% improvement on the 399.2 cents recorded the year before.
Despite “challenging trading conditions”, the group added, retail sales had risen by 12.8 percent, with same store sales up by 9.8 percent. Selling price inflation had been contained to 4.9 percent, it added.
“As part of the board’s commitment to return surplus cash to shareholders, the group returned R876 million to shareholders through dividend payments of R586 million and share buy-backs of R290 million,” the statement said.
A total of R433 million was invested in capital expenditure during the year, including new stores and pharmacies, refurbishments and IT systems.
The Clicks store footprint was expanded to 511 following the opening of a net 25 new stores during the period under review. The pharmacy network reached 400 as 39 in-store pharmacies were opened.
The statement added that Clicks had launched an online sales platform offering a “click and collect” service in all stores across South Africa.
The group said it had made a considerable investment in improving the quality of customer service in store and created more than 1 200 new jobs in the past year.
“The weak consumer spending environment is expected to continue into 2017 as low economic growth, together with ongoing political and social uncertainty, will place further financial pressure on consumers,” Clicks said.
– African News Agency (ANA)