• Conviviality pre-tax profit before exceptionals edged up 2.8% to £3.3m in the 27 weeks to November 1
  • The retailer reported a strong Christmas performance with sales up 1.1% in its retail chains over the two peak weeks
  • Conviviality said the integration of the newly acquired Matthew Clark business was ahead of plan

Bargain Booze owner Conviviality’s pre-tax profit before exceptionals edged up 2.8% to £3.3m in its half year, despite a like-for-like decline of 1.3%.

The 1.3% like-for-like decline in the 27 weeks to November 1 marked an improvement in performance on the previous year. Sales at Conviviality’s retail business edged up 0.8% over the half, however including newly acquired trade drinks supplier Matthew Clark revenue surged 38% to £252m.

Group EBITDA jumped 43% to £6.5m.

Christmas cheer

Over the two peak Christmas weeks to January 3, like-for-like sales at Conviviality’s retail chains edged up 1.1%. Its Wine Rack chain notched up a 11.1% rise in like-for-likes over the two weeks and group sales were up 13%.

Champagne and sparkling wine sales surged 13% over the period, with four bottles of Prosecco sold every minute. Premium ales were up 300% and cases of craft ales soared 218%.

Meanwhile, Matthew Clark sales to outlets increased 20% in the two weeks to 3 January.

Conviviality chief executive Diana Hunter said: “This is a strong set of results during a period of significant transformational change. With Matthew Clark we now have a firm foundation in the expansive on-trade market from which to build on, and our success over the important Christmas period gives us confidence that the second half will deliver further growth.”

The retailer poached Argos chief operating officer David Robinson last week. Robinson becomes managing director of its retail division.

Debt levels escalated to £98.5m, from £1.2m net cash last year, following the Matthew Clark acquisition in October last year. Conviviality said its integration of Matthew Clark was ahead of plan.

Hunter added: “I am pleased with the progress we have made to bring our two businesses together. I would like to thank all of our people, our franchisees, our on trade customers and our suppliers who have contributed to our success.”