South African furniture brand Lewis on Wednesday reported an 18.9 percent increase in headline earnings per share. Pictured is the Lewis store in Plein Street, Cape Town. Picture: David Ritchie

JOHANNESBURG  - South African furniture brand Lewis on Wednesday reported an 18.9 percent increase in headline earnings per share to 215 cents in the six months to September as the retailer delivered solid revenue growth, improved margins, reduced debtor costs and increased profitability despite a deteriorating trading environment.  

The group increased its interim dividend by 14.3 percent to 120 cents and chief executive officer Johan Enslin said its strategy of diversifying across market segments and retail channels continued to gain traction.

Merchandise sales grew by 6.4 percent to R1.7 billion, with furniture outlet UFO sales up 8.8 percent while traditional brands Lewis, Best Home and Electric and Beares increased sales by 3.7 percent.

INspire, the omni-channel home shopping retailer launched in 2018, generated sales of R35.7 million for the six month period. 

The credit health of the group’s customer base continued to improve despite a weak consumer credit environment, Enslin said. 

Its store base increased to 787 as nine outlets were opened and six closed. This included 121 stores outside South Africa which accounted for 17.3 percent of total sales. Lewis said it planned to open a net six new stores in the second half of the year.

The group’s diversification strategy across target markets and sales channels would continue to offer resilience in the weak consumer spending environment, said Enslin.

Marketing activity was being accelerated to drive sales growth, with all the group’s brands participating in the Black Friday global shopping spree on November 29.

“We are also planning for robust festive season trading which will be supported by strong promotional campaigns and new merchandise ranges,” Enslin added.

- African News Agency (ANA)