UK: T&S Stores turn convenience into profitability
T&S Stores has announced H1 profits that demonstrate the importance of convenience to UK consumers. While the average customer spends just £3 at the till per visit, annual revenue has added up to £800m and pre-tax profits up to September have increased 17% to £14.1m. Exceptional charges took their toll however, as many acquisitions had to be rebranded and the Day & Nite chain, bought in 1999 for £33.5m, needed integrating. Chairman Kevin Threlfall explained that the chain was avoiding "being beaten up" by larger supermarkets because: "The market is polarising. The supermarkets are for the big boot-fill shop, the £80 purchase. We're for the top-up shopper." Indeed, around 55% of T & S shoppers live within a quarter mile radius of the local store.Currently expanding at a rate of 50 outlets a year in the UK, T & S is on course to control 1000 convenience stores by 2002. The chain is also improving its popularity by installing new in-store services; including post-offices, increased floor space for off licence sections and collection points for Internet purchases. There are also plans to install cash point machines in all its stores, which will stay open until 11pm.CEO James McCarthy said that: "We want to drive footfall." The new services however, have only low profit margins and T & S must raise the current operating margin of 3.3% to the group average of 5.7%. The interim dividend rose by 10% to 4.3p.
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