Brexit risks, foreign exchange, costs, mitigating actions

Halfords Group plc – Annual report – 31 March 2018

Industry: retail

Chief Financial Officer’s Report (extract 1)

Dividend (“DPS”)

The Board has recommended a final dividend of 12.03 pence per share (FY17: 11.68 pence), taking the full year ordinary dividend to 18.03 pence per share, an increase of 3.0%. If approved the final dividend will be paid on 31 August 2018 to shareholders on the register at the close of business on 27 July 2018.

We continue to target coverage of around 2 times on average over time. However, the impact of adverse FX movements will reduce cover initially until fully mitigated, which will take some time.

Chief Financial Officer’s Report (extract 2)

Brexit

As we have previously explained, the decision of the UK to leave the European Union (“Brexit”) presents significant uncertainties to the Group as a result of the impact on the wider UK economy. We have previously set out the main areas in which we considered Brexit was likely to impact the Group. We reaffirm and update our assessment of these below:

  1. Impact on exchange rates. The Group buys a significant proportion of its goods in US dollars; between $250m and $300m a year. As previously guided, the majority of our US dollar sourcing is for cycling products, and, in 2017, bike prices rose across the cycling market, both from suppliers into retailers and then onto customers. We have also increased some of our bike prices, but we maintained good value against the competition. Our bike volumes declined, but this was more than offset by the increase in average selling prices.

We have now experienced a cumulative additional £40m of input costs compared to FY16, in respect of the weaker pound against the US dollar. Our plans to offset the gross impact (through supplier negotiations, operational efficiencies and pricing) have worked well and the net impact on Retail gross margin visibly improved over the year with a year-on-year movement in gross margin of -182bps in H1 and -48bps in H2. We have now recovered over half of the gross impact and at current exchange rates we do not anticipate any further FX headwind in FY19 or FY20.

As explained in the CEO statement, we now expect the remaining unmitigated amount to be recovered through the improved exchange rates rather than through further price rises. Given our hedging policy, this benefit will be mostly felt in FY20 rather than in FY19.

2. Prolonged uncertainty over exit terms and continued weakness in Sterling could lead to a slowdown in the UK economy, and consequent loss of consumer confidence, impacting trading conditions for the Group. However, Halfords has strong positions in fragmented Motoring and Cycling markets, and a service-led offer that differentiates us from our competitors, physical and online. Much of our sales are in needs-based categories that are more resilient to macro-economic cycles and our discretionary categories, such as cycling, camping and travel solutions, could benefit from an increase in the number of people choosing to stay at home rather than holidaying abroad; a trend that we observed in 2009.

 

 

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