October 25, 2018 / 7:54 AM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-Rising healthcare, beauty sales lift South African retailer Clicks' annual profit

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JOHANNESBURG, Oct 25 (Reuters) - South African pharmacy and beauty product retailer Clicks Group reported a 15.1 percent rise in full-year profit on Thursday, as sales promotions helped it withstand sluggish consumer spending in the country.

The retailer, which competes with Dis-Chem, said it sees consumer spending remaining subdued but expects health and beauty sales to be steady in 2019.

It said its diluted headline earnings per share increased 15.1 percent to 577.6 cents per share for the year ended Aug. 31, and operating profit grew to 2.04 billion rand ($140 million), from 1.81 billion rand a year earlier.

Health and beauty sales rose 11.7 percent during the year.

“The business continues to trade well in these challenging economic conditions and management is confident of maintaining sales momentum and sustaining volume growth in the year ahead,” Chief Operating Officer Vikesh Ramsunder said in a statement.

Ramsunder is due to succeed David Kneale as Chief Executive in January.

South African retailers have struggled to boost earnings as consumers have grappled with higher fuel prices and an increase in value-added tax.

However, South African retail sales have picked up over the past few months, increasing 2.5 percent year-on-year in August, signalling an easing on consumer pressures.

Clicks said its turnover increased by 9.1 percent in the year through August to 29.2 billion rand.

The group said a 700 million rand capital investment was planned in the 2019 financial year, but did not elaborate.

At 0748 GMT, Clicks shares were 1.8 percent higher at 165.75 rand. ($1 = 14.5766 rand) (Reporting by Patricia Aruo; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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