12th Sep 2023 10:12
(Alliance News) - Wickes Group PLC on Tuesday declared an unchanged interim dividend, saying it plans to make the same payout for all of 2023 as it did in 2022, despite cost inflation and technology investment hitting profit.
Watford, England-based Wickes operates 229 home-improvement product stores in the UK, serving the building trade, as well as consumers with both do-it-yourself and do-it-for-me offerings.
Pretax profit in the 26 weeks that ended July 1 was GBP21.1 million, down 37% from GBP33.5 million a year before. Revenue edged up 0.7% to GBP827.7 million from GBP822.3 million. Within this, revenue in the core trade and DIY businesses slipped 0.9% to GBP626.8 million from GBP632.6 million, while DIFM revenue rose 5.9% to GBP200.9 million from GBP189.7 million.
Despite the profit setback, Wickes declared an unchanged interim dividend of 3.6 pence, saying this reflected its intention to maintain the same annual dividend as in 2022, when it paid 10.9p. Wickes also said it has a GBP25 million share buyback programme underway.
The company had GBP190.0 million in cash on July 1, up from GBP99.5 million at the end of 2022 and GBP166.5 million a year ago.
Trading in July and August was in line with its expectations, Wickes said. It continues to expect 2023 adjusted pretax profit to be in line with market consensus that it placed at GBP45 million to GBP48 million after IT investment costs. This compares to GBP75.4 million in 2022.
In the first half of 2023, adjusted pretax profit was GBP31.1 million, down 25% from GBP41.3 million in 2022.
"As we head into the Autumn, we are well-stocked with our extensive range of energy-saving products, as we look to support our customers in insulating their homes," said Chief Executive David Wood, adding: "We are well on track for the remainder of the year and we have the right strategy in place to make further market share gains within the large home improvement sector."
Wickes shares were up 1.3% at 140.41p in London on Tuesday morning.
By Tom Waite, Alliance News editor
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