JOHANNESBURG, May 26 (Reuters) - South African clothing retailer Foschini Group reported an 18 percent rise in full-year profit on Thursday, boosted by Phase Eight, a British chain it acquired last year.
Foschini, which is expanding outside South Africa as consumer spending tightens in its home market, said headline earnings per share (EPS) rose to 1,056 cents for the year ending in March, from 898 cents a year earlier.
Headline EPS is the main profit measure in South Africa and strips out certain one-off items.
“The group’s overall gross margin has improved from 47.3 percent to 49.7 percent mainly as a result of the higher Phase Eight clothing margin,” the company said in a statement.
Foschini said it plans to open at least 50 more Phase Eight stores this financial year.
Sales also benefited from the inclusion of the British retailer and rose 31.2 percent to 21.1 billion rand ($1.4 bln). Excluding Phase Eight, the increase was 11.6 percent.
The retailer extended its push into the northern hemisphere, buying British high street chain Whistles in March, as consumers in South Africa rein in spending due to higher interest rates, rising energy costs and unemployment of more than 25 percent.
Foschini Group has been the best performer among South Africa’s listed fashion retailers this year, with its shares rising more than 17 percent, compared to a 6 percent decline by larger rival Mr Price. ($1 = 15.5615 rand) (Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Susan Fenton)