City round-up: Pets at Home; GB Group; Lookers

Pets at Home
X The Business Desk

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Cheshire pet care group, Pets at Home, enjoyed a 25.7% increase in first quarter total group revenues of £377.8m, it said today.

In a trading update the Handforth business said, notwithstanding an increasingly challenging cost environment, including the ongoing impact of the pandemic on operating costs, which it continues to estimate at £9m this financial year, it maintained its price competitiveness through the quarter, with good profit and cash conversion reflecting a higher number of store transactions and strong growth in accessories sales, as well as the strong sales performance from the Vet Group.

Based on trading year to date it now anticipates that full year group underlying pre-tax profit will be £130m, at the top end of the current range of analyst expectations, representing a £42.5m (+49%) increase on the prior year.

Group chief executive, Peter Pritchard, said: “It is pleasing to note that many of the positive trends from our last financial year have accelerated in the current quarter. Key indicators point to continued growth in pet ownership, providing a supportive backdrop to long term growth across the underlying market and our business, and we continue to see strong growth in new customers, subscription plans and veterinary clients.

“I remain incredibly grateful to all our colleagues and partners across the group for their continuous hard work and excellent customer service.

“Our unique, omnichannel pet care strategy continues to deliver, with strong momentum across both sides of our business, as well as good progress against our strategic priorities, meaning we look to the future with much confidence.”

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GB Group

GBG, the Chester-based global identity data intelligence specialist, said its strong momentum has carried through to its new financial year.

In a statement ahead of its Annual General Meeting today, David Rasche GBG’s non-executive chairman said: “As reported in GBG’s annual results announcement on 15 June 2021 GBG achieved record financial results in a year that presented the most extraordinary global challenges.

“We are pleased to report that, in line with the board’s expectations, the company has made a good start to the new financial year. The structural growth opportunities for each of GBG’s three business units of Identity, Location and Fraud continue to be supported by consumer activity shifting online.

“In Identity, the increase in global crypto currency activity during April and May saw consumption volumes in our first quarter remain strong despite some challenging prior year comparatives, which had benefited from the USA government’s financial stimulus activity.

“GBG’s Location business continues to experience good demand across a range of sectors driven by the continuing consumer shift to greater online activity.

“In the Fraud business unit performance recovered in the first quarter of FY22 during which we secured term licence extensions from two large multinational financial services organisations, which will also benefit future years.”

He added: “Investment in GBG’s people, technology and channel-to-market capacity has continued and will accelerate through the financial year as further growth-focused capabilities are added.”

He said the company’s balance sheet remains strong, with net cash and treasury deposits of £37.7m at 30 June 2021 and an unutilised revolving credit facility of £110m.”

“The success we had last financial year, against the backdrop of COVID, along with a strong first quarter this year provides us with confidence for the year ahead.”

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Mark Raban

Car dealership group Lookers said it has delivered an “outstanding” performance to June 30, in its first half, in a trading update today.

The Altrincham group said this has led to an increase in the board’s expectations for underlying profit before tax for the full year of approximately £50m compared with a £36.1m underlying loss last year.

The board said it retains its focus on cash management and liquidity. At 30 June 2021, the group had a net cash balance of approximately £30m compared with net debt of £11.0m last year and £40.7m at 31 December 2020.

The group has a revolving credit facility for an initial £150m which was recently extended to 30 September 2023. The group’s balance sheet remains underpinned by a valuable property portfolio of circa £300m (77p per share).

Chief executive, Mark Raban, said: “The business has delivered an outstanding performance in the first half of the year, despite the multiple difficulties presented by the pandemic.

“The whole team has made extraordinary efforts to ensure our customers continue to receive an excellent service, however they choose to purchase a car through Lookers, and the enhancements made to our digital proposition have made a real difference.

“There remains some uncertainty and challenges for the second half, but, given the current momentum in the business, coupled with our focus on operational excellence and continuous development of our omni-channel customer experience, the board is confident of delivering a strong result for the year.”

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