The Board remains confident in the Group's outlook. While they continue to operate outside their targeted dividend payout of 40-50% of underlying cash generation, based upon the Group's outlook, they are comfortable maintaining the interim dividend at 3.7 pence. As stated in their published Capital and Distribution Policy, should the outlook worsen and underlying cash flow generation not cover the current level of ordinary dividends, they would if necessary reduce or halt dividends. However, they expect profit and cash generation growth which should enable them to return to the targeted payout range in the foreseeable future.
Other financial highlights include:
• Group revenue for H1 FY20 down 5.7% as expected given the strong comparative period was bolstered by latent demand and a higher opening order bank. Over a two year period (including Sofology on a pro forma basis) revenue is up 2.6%
• Year on year performance compounded by challenging market conditions with consumer confidence and political uncertainty impacting footfall, which was partially offset through increased conversion
• Online growth continued with Group gross sales up 4.5% to £117m (FY19 £112m). Group gross online sales were £222m over the last 52 weeks to 29 December 2019
• PBT(A) pre IFRS 16 of £20.5m for H1 FY20 reflects revenue trends and investment in operations; post IFRS 16 PBT for the period was £15.9m
• Net debt remained broadly flat year on year