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Love conquers all: How Michael Hill turned pandemic rocks into retail diamonds

Business

Michael Hill Jeweller is heading into the two most crucial weeks of the year with a swag of its Canadian outlets closed but overall sales booming.

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For the first 22 weeks of its half-year, MHJ said its same-store sales were up 8 per cent, its margins had grown 200 basis points and its digital channels were booming.

Investors jumped at the result sending the company’s shares up 11 per cent at the market open, but fell back during the morning to be up 7 per cent.

It’s a big difference from earlier in the year when the Brisbane-based company was forced to shut stores in New Zealand, Australia and Canada because of social distancing. It still has 14 stores in Canada closed.

But its online sales were up 110 per cent for the 22 weeks of the financial year so far.

The company said today that there were still concerns because of lower foot traffic in its stores and potential COVID-19 outbreaks but it said it was now expecting a first-half earnings before interest and tax “materially exceeding” the same period last year.

Chief executive Daniel Bracken said had delivered strong results for October and November.

“In addition to this impressive top line performance, the company continues its unwavering focus on costs and has worked diligently to deliver strong improvements in its cash and balance sheet position,” Bracken said.

“As we enter the all-important month of December I’m pleased that the company is well placed with a strong product offering, our best ever Christmas campaign and an energised retail team across all geographies.

“Having said this, the two weeks of trade leading up to Christmas are critical to the company’s overall performance and we are keeping a close eye on restrictions in Canada.”

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