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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Sales slump hits Matalan profits
Matalan clothes
Recent sales have picked up, Matalan says
Budget clothing chain Matalan has seen profits halve after what it described as a "disappointing" year.

Pre-tax profits sank to 60.7m ($108.6m) for the year to 28 February, compared with 117.4m last year.

Matalan has been hit by sliding sales, following problems with its womenswear range last summer, and increased competition from supermarkets.

But the firm said recent trading had improved, with like-for-like sales in the nine weeks to 1 May up 3.1%.

"Last year was a difficult one for Matalan, and the results produced by the group are deeply disappointing," said chairman John Hargreaves.

"However, I believe that the building blocks for a recovery are in place," he added.

Price pressure

The profit figure was at the low end of expectations, despite Matalan having already issued two profit warnings either side of the Christmas trading period.

The firm said trading in November, in the build-up to the crucial festive period, was "affected by significant discounting on the High Street".

Earlier in the year, summer sales of its womenswear range were hit by "poor choice, weak marketing and a... range that failed to meet the needs of our core customer," Matalan said.

Like-for-like sales at Matalan Retail were down 6.5%.

However, the firm said there were signs of recovery, with trading since the beginning of the new financial year "satisfactory".

It said it was "pleased with the progress we have made in ladieswear, kidswear and home, but menswear remains disappointing".

Decline

Matalan was one of the big retail success stories of the late 1990s, but in recent years it has fallen out of favour.

As well as problems with its clothing ranges the firm has also been hit by boardroom clashes.

Chief executive Paul Mason stepped down unexpectedly in March last year following disagreements with other senior managers.

Matalan shares peaked at 800p in late 2000. On Wednesday morning the shares were trading at 172.5p, up 0.5p on the day.


SEE ALSO:
Matalan spreads Christmas gloom
11 Dec 03  |  Business
Matalan let down by ladieswear
07 Oct 03  |  Business
Boardroom clash at Matalan
18 Mar 03  |  Business


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