Norways leading discount retail chain Europris has definitely been a corona winner and it showed the low-price chain up and running, also in the fourth quarter. Turnover increased from NOK 1,899 (US$220million) to NOK 2,523 million (US$292million), corresponding to a growth of 32.8%. Profitability also jumped sharply, and the adjusted operating profit before depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came in at NOK 677 million (US$78million), which is 50% higher than in the corresponding period last year. The gross margin is an important key figure for Europris and it increased from 45.1 to 45.7%. Profit after tax ended at NOK 366 million (US$42million), compared with NOK 212 million (US$25million) last year.
Good January sales
In the quarterly report, the low-price chain writes that it has succeeded well with the range, campaign management, and consequently has benefited from the corona pandemic. Operating results continued to be strong in the fourth quarter, which resulted in record sales and record results for Europris. The year 2020 has been different and challenging, but Europris has continued to strengthen its position and ends the year as market leader, says CEO Espen Eldal.
Europris writes in the quarterly report that strong sales have continued into January this year. Up to 31 department stores have been temporarily closed in the period from 23 January to 2 February, but now only seven stores are closed. The low-price chain finds it difficult to estimate the long-term effects of the corona pandemic. The quarterly report states that the freight market suffers from a shortage of containers. "As a result, spot prices have risen significantly and shipments of goods have been delayed to some extent. Europris has a fixed agreement with a carrier on both a fixed price and volume for 2021", writes Europris, and states that the situation may affect them in the longer term. In 2018, Europris bought 20% of the shares in the Swedish low-price variety discount chain ÖoB, and has an option to buy the remaining 80% at 7.7 times the average operating profit before depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2019 and 2020. A review of EBITDA for 2019 was conducted in the fourth quarter and the parties are not ready to agree on the target figure, so now an external third party is involved in the process.
Europris writes that the parties are quite far from agreeing, which may contribute to making it difficult to exercise the option.
ÖoB has suffered during the corona pandemic and the top line grew by only 4.1% to NOK 4,186 million (US$484million), while the EBITDA result fell from NOK 75 (US$8.7million) to 68 million (US$7.9million). Increased dividends The financial position is strong and at the end of the quarter the cash position was over NOK 1.9 billion (US$220million). The board proposes to pay a dividend of NOK 2.70 (US$0.3) per share. share, of which NOK 2.20 (US$0.25) is an ordinary dividend and NOK 0.50 (US$0.06) is an extra dividend due to the good results for 2020.
As a result of strong results last year, the Europris share has gone like a ball on the Oslo Stock Exchange in the past year with an increase of over 56%.
However, it is not only the shareholders who are well rewarded. Europris has set aside an extra NOK 12 million (US$1.4million) in bonuses for employees.