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Mr Price earnings up 17 percent as shoppers favour discount stores

Mr Price said diluted headline earnings per share rose to 1,012.9 cents in the year to end-March.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South African clothing retailer Mr Price reported a 17.1 percent rise in full-year profit, boosted by thrifty shoppers lured by discount chains during weak economic growth.

Mr Price said diluted headline earnings per share (EPS) rose to 1,012.9 cents in the year to end-March from 865.1 cents a year earlier. Headline EPS is the main profit measure in South Africa and strips out certain one-off items.

South African consumers, battered by higher interest rates and unemployment of more than 25 percent, are increasingly paying in cash as new affordability rules choke off easy in-store credit, also a positive trend for Mr Price, which sells 83 percent of its wares for cash.

Mr Price, which has outgrown fancier rivals The Foschini Group and Truworths in recent years, said cash sales were 9.2 percent higher, while credit growth was 2.3 percent, inhibited by the introduction of credit regulations in September.

Mr Price also noted the weaker South African rand, whose one-third decline in the past year is pushing up import costs, would hurt all apparel retailers, impacting its sales volume growth, though it would be less affected than some rivals.

"As a value retailer, our prices will rise less, so comparatively speaking, we are well positioned," Chief Executive Stuart Bird said.

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