JOHANNESBURG - Listed HomeChoice International is seeing increasing digital adoption by customers, which has led to an increase in its retail digital sales.

The group has recorded growth in both of its retail and financial services offerings.

Shirley Maltz, group chief executive for South Africa, said customer engagement through digital, especially mobi channels, was growing rapidly, with 60percent of retail digital sales executed from cellphones.

“Our investment in Oracle Commerce Cloud will further accelerate our digital transformation,” Maltz said.

In FinChoice now 86percent of loan customers were registered for digital platforms.

In retail sales digital continues to be the fastest-growing channel, up 46.7percent, and now represents 18.5percent of retail sales, up from 14.8percent last year.

“We will continue to position ourselves as a leading digital partner in the mass market, with an omni-channel offering,” Maltz said.

The group's established digital platforms and loyal customer base offered enormous opportunity to extend its product ranges and service offerings.

“The group continues to see increasing digital adoption by customers and will further develop its omni-channel offering by opening showrooms to enhance this growth trajectory. In the short term, continued tough trading conditions will be navigated,” the group said.

In the six months to end June, headline earnings increased by 16.1percent to R260million and headline earnings per share increased by 14.7percent to 249.6cents a share.

Maltz said: “We are seeing the benefit of our continuous investment into improving our customer experience and accelerating our digital transformation. Credit extended via digital channels increased by 54.7percent to R792m and now accounts for 39.1percent of total credit,” she said.

Customer base

The group services its large, primarily female and LSM 4 to 8 customer base and acquires more than 20000 new customers a month. During the period, HomeChoice invested R37m into a new distribution centre in Gauteng.

Group revenue was up 16.1percent to R1.5billion, and the group declared an interim dividend of 95c, up by 15.9percent as compared to last year.

During the period retail sales increased by 18.9percent and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) increased by 17.3percent, driven by strong volume growth in home ware textiles and the roll-out of external brands.

Financial Services grew revenue by 13percent and Ebitda by 15.9percent, supported by a 30percent increase in loan disbursements, as well as good growth in insurance revenue and strong adoption by customers of its mobi-wallet concept, MobiMoney.