Christmas was better than expected for the owner of Katies and its shares have taken off

Wendell Teodoro/WireImage

Specialty Fashion Group — the owner of Millers, Katies, Crossroads, Autograph, City Chic and Rivers — had a better than expected Christmas.

The company says preliminary numbers for the December half year show earnings of $18.5 million, well above the forecast range of $14 million to $17 million.

The lift was due to better than anticipated trading over Christmas, combined with cost cutting.

A short time ago, the company’s shares were up 11% to $0.25.

Specialty Fashion says the preliminary results show sales revenue of $399 million compared to $430 million in the same six months last year.

Profit was $3.1 million, down from $12.1 million.

“In a competitive retail environment, good progress was made towards our objective of building a platform for profitable, sustainable growth, and transforming the business into an agile omnichannel retailer with a strong and visible presence online and on the high street,” says Chairman Anne McDonald.

“Central to this has been a program to optimise the store network, including the closure of unprofitable stores.

“Store teams have been retained or redeployed wherever possible and we have made significant investment towards the enhancement of our online platform to provide customers with a compelling digital alternative.

“Whilst it is early days, we are pleased with the results from store optimisation and cost management initiatives, and are encouraged by the Group’s trading performance over the Christmas period in what was a very competitive environment.”

The company, which is undergoing a structural review, has had a number of confidential takeover offers. “There is no certainty that any of these proposals will result in a binding offer,” it says.

The company also announced that Daniel Bracken, a former Deputy CEO and Chief Merchandise and Customer Officer at Myer, will succeed Gary Perlstein as CEO.

Bracken’s base pay will be $850,000, plus short and long term bonuses.

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