March 14, 2018 / 6:40 AM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Clas Ohlson Q3 operating profit falls, Feb sales up 2 pct

(Adds detail, background)

March 14 (Reuters) - Swedish budget retailer Clas Ohlson on Wednesday reported a drop in fiscal third-quarter earnings that was bigger than expected by analysts surveyed, and said sales had grown slightly in the first month of its fourth quarter.

* Fiscal Q3 ‍(Nov-Jan) operating profit at Clas Ohlson, which sells a broad range of products, was 349 mln SEK ($42.5 mln) vs three analysts’ mean forecast of 379 mln in a Reuters survey, and a year-earlier 390 mln

* Sales in the company’s seasonally most important quarter rose 2 pct to 2.75 bln SEK, up 4 pct in local currencies​

* Says its Christmas sales figures were record high while online sales performed well in all markets in the quarter, particularly in Britain

* Feb sales up 2 pct yr/yr, up 3 pct in local currency yr/yr

* Clas Ohlson in December unveiled it had halted its store expansion in the Nordics amid a rapidly changing retail market and sluggish sales, sending its shares down

* Company is working on developing its offering, customer meeting and sales channels and plans to present a strategic plan in full at a capital markets day in May

* Lotta Lyra, CEO since August, said in December company could exit existing segments, enter new segments, expand further into the service sector, enter strategic partnerships * In December Clas Ohlson bought a 10 percent stake in one of the country’s largest online grocery stores, MatHem * Lyra said on Wednesday bids in Q3 to strengthen the offer included the launch in Norway of click & collect * At Tuesday’s close, shares were down 3.3 pct YTD * Said in Feb is looking for a successor to CFO Goran Melin who has entered his resignation Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: ($1 = 8.2048 Swedish crowns) (Reporting By Anna Ringstrom; editing by Johannes Hellstrom)

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