Brait final results March 2018
Loss for the year narrowed to EUR667 million (EUR1.0 billion). Furthermore, headline loss per share improved to EUR141cps (EUR212cps).
Ordinary dividend policy
The Group's policy is to consider annually an ordinary bonus share issue or cash dividend alternative election of 1% to 2.5% of closing NAV, taking into account the Group's available cash resources and debt utilization.
For the current period, no dividend has been declared as the Board has resolved to reduce debt at the Brait level.
* Virgin Active produced a strong set of results for its financial year ended 31 December 2017. The first quarter of 2018 has seen an encouraging increase in membership in both South Africa and the UK reflected in strong revenue growth in constant currency terms across the group. Growth in new clubs for 2018 is focused on Italy and Asia Pacific. The group continues to invest in its digital proposition, product innovation and pursuing Group Exercise and Personal Training across all territories in order to drive targeted EBITDA growth.
* Despite a weak domestic economy, Premier will target profitable growth by focusing in the short term on margin management across all businesses and seeking further cost savings and efficiencies. Premier will continue with its plans to optimize its bakery manufacturing footprint to align capacity to market demand with a focus on bringing its inland bakeries to the standard of Premier's upgraded coastal bakeries in KwaZulu Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. Pursuant to its growth strategy, Premier will seek value enhancing acquisitions to assist in entering new categories and/or geographies and, without compromising its growth ambitions, continue repaying the shareholder funding provided by Brait.
* Iceland's group sales continue to grow in FY2019, driven by the expansion of the store estate where it aims to open a total of 30 new Food Warehouse stores during the current year. The company's programme of major Iceland store refits in the UK, with 8 completed quarter to date (and more to come), continues to drive LFL sales growth in these stores. However, overall LFL sales in the quarter to date are negative, against the very strong comparative of 6.4% growth in the first quarter last year, with a positive underlying performance adversely impacted by Easter falling earlier than in 2017. The overall UK food retail market has also slowed in this period, with Iceland's performance only slightly behind the market as measured by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD). Iceland maintains a strong programme of product innovation and the quality of its own label food continues to receive industry and public recognition. Iceland has a strong brand, unique products, excellent product innovation, a stable capital structure and a proven strong cash generating capability which underpins its ability to deliver profitable growth over the long term.
* Since November 2017, New Look has focused on making the necessary changes to get the company back on track and reconnect with its customers. New Look's turnaround plan is now well underway and has already made substantial operational improvements to help stabilise the business, reduce its fixed cost base and attain a better position to drive full price sales. New Look has started its new financial year with a significantly cleaner stock position. The company's liquidity position continues to improve and early Q1 trading indicates improvements in specific womenswear categories where initial attention has been focused. Importantly, the New Look brand remains strong and has recently regained its number 1 position in its core target market, namely for ages 18 û 42 within the UK womenswear market.
In conclusion, Brait believes that driving value in the existing portfolio should remain the key focus for the year ahead.