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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
New Peacocks jobs as profits rise
Peacocks store
The Peacock Group says shoppers are looking for value clothes
Discount clothing chain the Peacock Group says it will continue to grow after reporting an eight per cent rise in pre-tax profits from £31m to £35m.

The Cardiff-based retailer, which includes bonmarché and the Fragrance Shop, saw group sales rose 3.6%, with turnover up 11.8% to £548m.

Chief Executive Richard Kirk said the high street was tough but the firm was well placed at its end of the market.

He confirmed Peacocks planned to create an extra 800 jobs in the next year.

The company said discount sales were holding up well despite the growing reluctance of shoppers to splash out on fashion, and its sector grew at a faster rate than the clothing market overall.

Fashion is not just for young people: it's for older people as well
Chief executive Richard Kirk
Trading conditions were currently particularly challenging and sales growth was "hard won", but the group said the gloom over consumer spending and the UK's economic outlook could play into its hands.

"It is tough out there on the high street, but it's all a matter of changing your offer and making sure that appeals to the consumer and what they want," said Mr Kirk.

"I think we are particularly well placed at our end of the market. Both our key clothing brand, Peacocks and bonmarché, are at the value end and with the pressure on the purse we are seeing people trade down.

Poor weather

"But I think more importantly it's what we are selling and our offer has been completely transformed over the last couple of years."

The 400-plus Peacocks stores did better than the 350 bonmarché outlets. Peacocks sales grew 9.3%, while bonmarché - which sells clothes for women aged 45 and above - fell 7.1%.

Mr Kirk said bonmarché was in "a more difficult part of the market," and said other retailers such as Marks & Spencer were not doing so well.

"There's a lot of change also taking place in that market because fashion is not just for young people, it's for older people as well and they want more fashionable products."

Mr Kirk said the company planned to open more than 20 new Peacocks, 20 bonmarchés, and 30 Fragrance Shops.

He said trading would continue to be hard, with factors such as poor recent weather affecting sales. "But these things have a habit of evening themselves out and I think we should have a good year," he added.

Finance director Keith Bryant said: "When people tighten their purse strings they look increasingly for value offers. Peacock is incredibly well set to take advantage of any downturn in the economy."

The company received a takeover approach from an unnamed party earlier this year, but Mr Kirk said that "went away" within 24 hours.

Peacock sinks on profit warning
11 Jan 05 |  Business

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