Retail group SPAR said on Wednesday its headline earnings per share increased by 1.4 percent to 965.7 cents in the year ended September. Picture: JACQUES NAUDE

JOHANNESBURG - Retail group SPAR said on Wednesday its headline earnings per share increased by 1.4 percent to 965.7 cents in the year ended September.

SPAR's board approved a final dividend of 729 cents per share, an eight percent increase over last year's 675 cents.

The company said its performance in the year was pleasing, with turnover increasing by 5.9 percent to R101 billion despite continued challenging trading conditions. 

"The result has again been positively impacted by improving contributions from the European businesses and the group increased operating profit by 7.9 percent to R2.8 billion," it said.

Profit before taxation of R2.5 billion was however adversely impacted by fair value adjustments to, and foreign exchange losses on financial liabilities, together with increased interest expenditure resulting from cash outflows for acquisitions.

SPAR Southern Africa contributed growth in wholesale turnover of 6.7 percent, including turnover reported by the pharmaceutical business, S Buys, which was acquired during the year. 

The SPAR southern Africa store network increased to 2,236 stores, with 145 new outlets opened across all brands. The group completed 276 store upgrades across all brands, compared to 259 upgrades in 2017.

"Against the backdrop of subdued consumer and business confidence in southern Africa, the trading environment is expected to remain largely unchanged in the medium term," SPAR said.

"While food price inflation has recently dropped to extremely low levels, there are discernible signs that the cycle will start to turn."

It said recent record movements in fuel prices and continued foreign currency weakness also indicated that consumers would remain under pressure, with a constrained spending outlook.

- African News Agency (ANA)