Findel has reported a “solid” start to the year as total sales increased 1.9% in the 17 weeks to July 24.

  • Total sales up 1.9%
  • Express Gifts sales rise 7.7%
  • Kitbag revenues slip 5.6%

Findel chairman David Sugden said that first quarter trading was “in line with expectations”.

Findel’s largest business, Express Gifts, delivered sales growth of 7.7% in the period. Sugden said gross margins were “slightly lower” year on year due to product mix. 

Sugden will say at the AGM today: “As in previous years, the majority of this growth has come from existing customers.”  

Credit-related income increased by 6% and Sugden said “the quality of the receivables continues to improve”.

Sales at its sports business Kitbag, which it mulled selling earlier this year, fell 5.6% due to the “adverse timing differences caused by the later launch of certain clubs’ new season replica kits”, according to Sugden. The retailer also said it was up against tough comparables – this time last year it benefitted from sales relating to the World Cup.

Sugden said that, adjusting for these factors, sales would have been “moderately ahead” at Kitbag.

He added that the early weeks of the financial year are “relatively quiet periods for Express Gifts and Kitbag”

Findel reported a pre-tax loss of £1.7m for the year ending March 31, but Sugden attributed this to one-off exceptional items and said in June he expects the group to turn a profit in its current financial year.

Findel’s chief executive Roger Siddle stood down at the end of the last financial year. Sugden is leading the business until a replacement is found.