Money Editor for NZ Herald

Stock Takes: Magic Duke behind Briscoe's record

Other retailers must be wondering what Rod Duke's magic secret is after his Briscoe Group announced another record profit this week. Photo/Paul Estcourt.
Other retailers must be wondering what Rod Duke's magic secret is after his Briscoe Group announced another record profit this week. Photo/Paul Estcourt.

How is it that Briscoe Group is making record profits while other retailers are struggling?

Managing director Rod Duke, who owns around three-quarters of the retailer, says it's because Kiwis are over cheap rubbish.

But other analysts have pointed to a number of factors.

Forsyth Barr's Chelsea Leadbetter says it is down to the company buying the right products and its well-known sales-strategy of having major sales around public holidays, which appears to resonate well with consumers.

"He always has very strong control of the business and know what he wants," she says of Duke.

Duke is on top of cost control and inventory management and also has the advantage of being in the homewares category which has benefited from people feeling wealthier through the strength of the property market, she said.

Leadbetter dropped her rating on the company from outperform to neutral this week but said that was purely because its share price had risen so much - up 30 per cent in the past six months.

"Nothing has changed with respect to our view on the outlook for the company."

Retail commentator Chris Wilkinson said Briscoes had managed to get it right when going for the contemporary look compared to others which had missed the mark.

"Sure they have got the down and dirty 30 per cent off days, but [they also have] a lot of the nesting themes that resonate really well with consumers."

Wilkinson said the company did well in hitting middle New Zealand which is where the money was.

But challenges could be on the horizon for Briscoe Group with Australian homeware chain Adairs opening in New Zealand and the possibility of JD Sports coming to New Zealand sometime in the future.

The UK sporting goods store has just opened in Australia and Wilkinson said Rebel in Australia had already been making changes in preparation.

Making waves again

Market sources say Kiwi aged-care operator Oceania Healthcare is being spruiked around the investment industry again as it tries to talk up interest in a sharemarket float.

This time last year Oceania chief executive Earl Gasparich downplayed chatter in the Australian Financial Review's Street Talk column that Oceania was expected to front potential buyers with its owner Macquarie Capital in tow.

Gasparich told BusinessDesk the AFR story was "just speculative - there's no substance to it at all".

But he did say a listing could be on the cards in the future in another year or so.

"We still need to recapitalise at some stage, but we need to get this year behind us then forecast forward for another year," Gasparich said.

"It would be potentially on the cards after that, but at the moment, we're focusing on the business itself."

The company is said to be targeting a dual New Zealand and Australian listing but so far interest from Australia appears to be muted.

According to the AFR at the one of the Sydney briefings by the company just two people were said to have turned up.

The AFR said there was a view in the market that the business is a New Zealand one and carries no relevance to Australian investors.

According to its website Oceania has 49 locations in New Zealand including 25 retirement villages with around 3000 care rooms and around 1000 independent living villas and apartments.

- NZ Herald

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