Steinhoff half-year earnings up 7% on value and furnishings demand

By Nqobile Dludla JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa-based retailer Steinhoff said its half-year core earnings rose by 7%, as demand for value lines and a focus on home furnishings offset the impact of pandemic restrictions. During Steinhoff’s October to March reporting period many countries in Europe tightened restrictions or re-imposed lockdowns which hit its in-store operations and trading hours. Despite this, Steinhoff said on Friday that its total revenue from continuing operations rose 4% to 4.497 billion euros ($5.37 billion) in the period, from 4.342 billion euros. “Individual businesses, such as Pepkor Africa and Pepco Group, with their everyday value focus, continued to perform robustly,” Steinhoff said in a statement. “Others, such as Mattress Firm and Greenlit Brands Group reported strong trade as restrictions moderated and the operations focused strategically on consumers investing in their homes,” the company added. Steinhoff owns furniture, electronics, homeware and clothing brands under majority-owned Pepkor in Africa, Pepco in Europe, Greenlit Brands in Australia and New Zealand, LIPO in Switzerland and a 50% stake in Mattress Firm in the U.S. It said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) – a measure of operating profit – from continuing operations rose to 686 million euros, from a restated 639 million euros in the comparable prior period. The loss from continuing operations dropped to 319 million euros from 1.3 billion euros. Total group debt increased to 10.4 billion euros from 9.9 billion euros as the interest accrued exceeded debt repaid, Dutch-registered Steinhoff said. Its Johannesburg-listed shares were up 2.53% at 0814 GMT, valuing Steinhoff at around 8.4 billion rand ($594 million), while its Frankfurt-listed shares rose 2.63%. Steinhoff was valued at more than 230 billion rand before it was rocked by an accounting fraud in December 2017. ($1 = 0.8370 euros) ($1 = 14.1429 rand)
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