Clicks in 'unbelievable turnaround'

STRONG trading from the flagship Clicks chain, along with efficient cash and capital management, helped the Clicks Group increase diluted headline earnings a share by 26,2percent to 165,9c for the year ended August.

Drivers of growth at Clicks include its reputation as a value retailer, the continued growth in club loyalty programme which stands at 2,6million members, and the roll-out of pharmacies.

Nedcor retail analyst Syd Vianello said the results showed "an unbelievable turnaround story. They're in the sweetest spot in retail at the moment, which is personal goods".

The fastest growing category in retail is currently pharmacy, personal goods, toiletries and cosmetics. Return on equity at the health-care retail and supply group jumped from 32,8percent to 42,3percent and has increased three-fold since 2005. Shares in the company have risen 64,17percent over the past year.

Group chief executive David Kneale said the high real growth in retail turnover and earnings highlights the defensive nature of the business in the tough economic climate.

Group turnover rose 8,8percent to R12,2billion.

Operating margin increased from 5,3percent to 5,8percent, with the margins of Clicks and pharmaceutical UPD bench-marking favourably against comparable international businesses.