Crawshaw confident ahead of huge expansion as sales leap by 12pc

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BUTCHERS chain Crawshaw reported an enviable 12 per cent leap in half year like-for-like sales as the group presses ahead with plans to open up to 200 stores over the next eight years

Crawshaw’s ambitious plans will transform it from a small regional player to a nationwide chain.

The Rotherham-based firm said trading is strong across its store portfolio as cash-strapped customers switch to Crawshaw’s multi-pack deals.

The firm, which was Yorkshire’s biggest share price gainer last year, has enjoyed phenomenal growth recently as it taps into consumer demand for quality meat at low prices.

Total sales for the first half rose 20 per cent to £11.8m in the six months to July 31, with £500,000 generated from new stores and more than £200,000 from its premium sector shop which it bought in May.

Crawshaw’s chairman Richard Rose said that, looking towards the second half of the year, the core business is performing in line with expectations with like-for-like sales up five per cent in the first eight weeks of the second half.

He added that the gross margin is higher than in the first half.

“In July we closed our small market site in Sheffield now that our high street store, almost opposite, is trading well,” he said.

“We expect to open our new factory shop in Hellaby at the beginning of November, being slightly behind our original timetable.

“We are very excited about our accelerated store opening programme and we are starting to build our resource and capability so that we are in a position to deliver opportunities through 2015.”

Analyst John Cummins at WH Ireland said: “Interim results demonstrate the progress being made across the Crawshaw business.

“Sales growth has continued since the AGM in June, with like-for-like sales for the period ahead by 12 per cent, whilst at the same time costs have been kept tightly under control.

“Following the placing to raise £8.8m in July to increase the roll out programme, the net cash position at the end of the period stood at £9.7m.

“We maintain our ‘buy’ recommendation and 70p share price target to reflect the significant potential of the roll out over the next few years.”

Mr Rose said that whilst actual overhead expenditure increased year over year to £4.5m from £4.0m, this is directly related to the growth in sales.

As a percentage of total sales, overhead expenditure has fallen to 38 per cent from 41 per cent last year.