Michael Hill International, the jewellery chain business founded by its namesake, posted a 30 per cent decline in annual profit as it accounted for tax adjustments.
Profit fell to A$19.6 million, or 5.09 Australian cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30, from A$27.8 million, or 7.22 cents, the year earlier, the Brisbane-based company said in a statement.
The earnings included a A$28.8 million settlement of a historic tax dispute with New Zealand's Inland Revenue Department and A$19.4 million of tax adjustments related to its listing on the ASX. Adjusting for those items, profit increased 4.2 per cent to A$28.9 million.
The jewellery retailer grew revenue and earnings before interest and tax across its key Australian, New Zealand and Canadian markets. Revenue improved at its fledgling US operations, though its loss widened as it opened a new store, while its emerging Emma & Roe brand boosted revenue and slimmed down its loss.
The 2016 financial year "was a significant year for the group, with a record ebit result being achieved on the back of solid performance by our Australian, New Zealand and Canadian businesses," the directors said in their report.
The company's 168 Australian stores increased ebit 9.6 per cent to A$50.3 million as revenue rose 4.4 per cent to A$307.3 million.
The profit margin expanded to 16.4 per cent from 15.6 per cent in the year-earlier period. It opened three stores and closed two during the year, and plans to open a further three this year.
"This result is particularly pleasing against a backdrop of a continued challenging retail environment, especially in regions impacted by the resources sector downturn," the company said.
Its 52 New Zealand stores grew ebit 16 percent to $27.3 million as revenue rose 7.2 per cent to $122.2 million, helped by strong consumer demand in Auckland. The profit margin improved to 22.3 per cent from 20.7 per cent.
Michael Hill's Canadian unit improved ebit 57 per cent to C$9.5 million while revenue jumped 19 per cent to C$94.1 million, as it gained market share, benefited from its bigger scale and improved margins. The profit margin widened to 10 per cent from 7.6 per cent.
This result is particularly pleasing against a backdrop of a continued challenging retail environment, especially in regions impacted by the resources sector downturn.
Store numbers increased to 67 from 60, and the company plans to open as many as 10 new stores in the coming year and aims to expand towards 110 stores.
"The group has several years of new store growth in the Canadian market which will further lift revenues and profits," it said.
The operating loss in the US widened to US$2.3 million from US$1.9 million a year earlier, although revenue increased 24 per cent to US$14 million. It added one store, taking the total to 10.
"Our US trial continues and while the bottom line slipped on the previous year, some headway was made with real estate and merchandise refinements," it said, adding that most of the stores were expected to produce positive ebit in the current financial year.
The company said it has moved its Emma & Roe chain from a trial phase and into growth mode, with as many as 12 new stores planned for the current financial year. The brand, which sells charm bracelets and accessories, was launched in April 2014 and doubled its size in the past year, taking the total number of stores to 16. It is eyeing 200 Australasian store locations for the brand, and as many as 100 in Canada.
This strategy will remain in coming years as more of our investment in inventory is shifted from generic product to proprietary branded collections that offer higher margin and superior return on investment.
Emma & Roe's ebit loss narrowed to A$2.4 million from A$2.9 million as revenue jumped 92 per cent to A$9.3 million.
The group opened 19 new stores in the past year, taking the total to 313, and expects to open more than 20 new stores in the current financial year. Its revenue from branded collections lifted to 14 per cent of total revenue, from 13 per cent the previous year, and it expects that to push higher to 15 per cent in the current year.
It aims to have 20 per cent of its global sales coming from branded collections, which have a 5 per cent margin premium on other goods.
"This strategy will remain as more of our investment in inventory is shifted from generic product to proprietary branded collections that offer higher margin and superior return on investment," it said.
The company flagged that it will be seeking support from shareholders at the upcoming annual meeting for a termination package for former chief executive Mike Parsell at a level "substantially below" that specified in his 2004 employment contract. Parsell resigned on August 8, having worked for the company since 1981 and as chief executive since 2004.
The company said that except in cases of termination by the company for cause, the CEO contract provides for the payment of an exit package to the CEO of up to 2 years remuneration based on an increasing scale commensurate with the CEO's length of employment in the group.
In the last year, Parsell was paid A$824,000 in salary and fees and A$794,481 in a short-term incentive cash bonus, taking the total to A$1.6 million. He also received A$35,000 in superannuation benefits.
The company will pay a 2.5 Australian cent final dividend on October 6. Michael Hill shares last traded at $1.56, and have jumped 58 per cent this year.