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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 17:35 GMT
No Christmas cheer for Ottakar's
Ottakar's branch
The profit warning unsettled investors
Bookshop chain Ottakar's has seen its share price fall 14% after it warned that profits would disappoint following a lacklustre Christmas trading period.

Despite like-for-like sales over the festive period rising by 2.2%, this was a slower increase than the 3.5% seen over the full six months to 1 January.

As a result, the company said annual results for its financial year to 29 January would be below expectations.

Profits are set to be above 7m ($13m), but less than the predicted 8.9m.

Sales would be 2.5m below expectations, it said.

Ottakar's, which has 131 outlets, announced pre-tax profits of 6.1m last year.

'Unsettling'

Chairman Philip Dunne said the prospects for the company remained strong, but that the festive season had been slow to get going.

Clearly the trading statement has rattled a lot of people
Nick Bubb, Evolution Securities

"Christmas came relatively late this year for Ottakar's, in common with several other retailers," he said.

Analysts said the profits warning was troubling.

"It is disappointing that although like-for-like sales are continuing to grow, profits are down," said Nick Bubb, retail analyst at Evolution Securities.

"Clearly the trading statement has rattled a lot of people.

"Ottakar's has expanded pretty quickly and has quite a bit of debt, so it is a bit unsettling."

The shares were down nearly 14% at 286.5 pence at the close on Thursday.


SEE ALSO:
Weak end-of-year sales hit Next
05 Jan 05 |  Business
Festive sales flat at Woolworths
04 Jan 05 |  Business
Tough market hits House of Fraser
04 Jan 05 |  Business


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