Belfast Telegraph

Poundland's full-year figures to be released after testing year

Poundland's outgoing boss Jim McCarthy will unveil his final set of full-year figures on Thursday after a testing year for the chain following sales falls and a difficult takeover of rival 99p Stores.

The group is expected to report an 11% drop in underlying pre-tax profits to £38.7 million for the year to March 27 after seeing sales declines pick up pace in the final six months.

Like-for-like sales decreased by 3.9% over the full year, but the fall was steeper in the second half, at 4.9%.

It warned over profits in January after Christmas trading was hit by poor numbers of shoppers on the high street and trading has remained under pressure since then.

Andrew Porteous, analyst at HSBC, said: "It may take some time for the business to stabilise like-for-like growth given momentum and lead times in ordering seasonal stock. However, an improving trajectory would at least help sentiment. The strategic intentions of incoming CEO Kevin O'Byrne will also be key in the longer term."

Mr McCarthy will stand down after 10 years on July 1 , when he will hand over to former B&Q UK and Ireland boss Mr O'Byrne, who joined as chief executive designate in April.

Mr McCarthy, who will remain with the group until his retirement at the firm's annual shareholder meeting in September, has been praised for his achievements at the helm of Poundland.

But his final year has been tough, with the transformational £55 million takeover of 99p Stores proving to be far from smooth.

The group finally received the all-clear for the deal from the competition watchdog last September, but Mr McCarthy has since admitted that 99p Stores was ''in a mess'' when it was handed over.

It was set to have completed converting all 99p Stores by the end of April and has given hope for a turnaround in trading, confirming that sales growth in converted stores has been strong so far .

Analysts at Canaccord Genuity said a first quarter trading update due with the full-year results is unlikely to show any marked improvement in sales yet.

They said the cold spring weather, timing of Easter and push to convert all the 99p Stores will have "conspired to hold like-for-like sales back".