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Budget retailer Heatons sees drop in sales and profit - The Irish News
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Business

Budget retailer Heatons sees drop in sales and profit

Heatons saw operating profits slip back in its last full trading year
Gary McDonald Business Editor

BUDGET department store chain Heatons, which has five stores in Northern Ireland, saw its operating profit slip back in its last trading year, according to figures just filed at Companies House.

The Athlone company - whose executive chairman until he resigned in October was flamboyant Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley - had been regarded as one of Ireland's fastest growing department store businesses and last year was its third largest non-food retailer, employing more than 2,000 people.

Its Northern Ireland operations had sales of £48.3 million in the 12 months to last April, down from £49.6 million a year earlier.

The two per cent drop in turnover was attributed to the competitive environment.

Operating profit came in at £4.4m (2015: £4.5m) while retained profit, at £3,386,383 was down just a shade on the previous banked figure of £3,454,345.

Heatons sells a range of homeware, clothing and toys, and as well as stores in Belfast (Boucher Road), Downpatrick, Lurgan and Enniskillen, it operates a regional distribution centre in Antrim.

In the 12 months to last April the company employed 446 staff (down from 498 a year earlier) at 10 stores, and its total wages bill was £4,956,304.

But its staff numbers are understood to have decreased since in line with its reduced estate in Northern Ireland.

The balance sheet value of shareholders' funds also increased sharply, and at the end of April 2016, at £17.8m, was three times the value of four years earlier.

In a strategic report filed alongside results, directors said the focus of the business is to offer quality affordable products to customers.

But they added: "We are also focused on continuously improving efficiency to minimise the cost base of the company".

Heatons (NI) is a subsidiary of an Irish registered company of the same family name (it was founded in 1946 in Athlone).

Its ultimate parent is the holding company Warrnambool, which previously owned and operated a number of standalone Sports Direct stores in the north.

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