10 Dec 2013

Postie+ pins hopes on new lines

7:17 am on 10 December 2013

Loss-making retailer Postie Plus Group is expecting new lines of clothing in its stores to revitalise sales as it seeks to claw back customers.

The group's first quarter sales dropped 14% to $15.9 million compared with the same period a year ago. It recently announced a full year loss and declining sales.

Chief executive Richard Binns said Postie Plus had a new buying team for its clothing ranges and had improved the quality and style of the apparel.

This had contributed to improved sales in the first weeks of the second quarter, and he expected second quarter sales to improve on the first, he said.

"Certainly the Christmas spending is a key factor but we've also put some improvements in place in terms of our marketing."

That included changing its mailer format and the frequency of its mailers, as well as changing its television advertising. All had been put in place in the first quarter and, while it took time to build momentum, Mr Binns was confident the changes were starting to pay off.

Other changes included having a chief executive, as the company ran had run without one for seven months until Mr Binns started in September.

"I've provided some focus and some leadership for the team and just pulled everybody along in the same direction," he said.

"We've got some fantastic new ranges in place and we're seeing some great reaction from customers to those new ranges, and will just build through the early part of next year, as more and more new product hits into stores."

The group's market value has plunged from $40 million on listing 10 years ago to just $3.4 million, and it has $21.1 million of debt.

It was looking for opportunities to attract capital to the business but Milford Asset Management investment analyst Victoria Harris said retailers with unhealthy bank balances were in a tough position in the current market.

"The could always come to market and get some money off shareholders," she said.

"There's also the possibility of an international retailer buying them out just to get a kind of footprint in New Zealand but they don't have a very strong customer database or store network, so that doesn't look like a viable option."

The group is selling its school uniform operation SchoolTex for $9 million, which it said should bring its debt down to about $12 million.