Bookseller's results dented by late shopping rush
Ottakar's today warned that profits would be lower than expected, following a lacklustre Christmas and the impact of exceptional costs.

Like-for-like sales at the retailer increased 2.2 per cent in the five weeks to January 1. This was below the 5 per cent full-year forecast from Seymour Pierce, which downgraded its annual profit expectations for the retailer from£9.1 million to£7.3 million. The retailer blamed the late Christmas rush, the delayed opening of new stores,£600,000 spent on staff costs and a£300,000 compensation payment to finance director Edward Knighton who left in November.

'This performance is a disappointment, especially the unexpected costs, which in our opinion shows signs of weakness in the company's budgeting systems,' said Seymour Pierce analyst Rhys Williams.

The announcement is the latest in a raft of poor results from retailers this week. It follows a pre-Christmas warning from the Financial Services Authority demanding that retailers issue speedy notice of poor festive performance.

Ottakar's chairman Philip Dunne said: 'Christmas came relatively late this year for Ottakar's in common with several other retailers. However, our positive like-for-like performance of 2.2 per cent over the Christmas period, and the continuing strength of our brand, product knowledge of our employees and new site opportunities give us confidence in the longer-term view.'