BABY BUNTING BUOYED BY CLICKS AND BRICKS PERFORMANCE

BABY BUNTING BUOYED BY CLICKS AND BRICKS PERFORMANCE

BABY Bunting has grown sales 18.1 per cent to $135.1 million in the first half of FY17, sweetened by the opening of its 40th store nationwide and strong performance through its online channels.

The baby goods retailer (ASX:BBN) posted a pro forma net profit after tax (NPAT) of $5.7 million for the 27-week period ending 1 January 2017, up 18.1 per cent from the shorter corresponding 26-week period which followed the company's initial ASX float.

Company earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) also rose on a pro forma basis by 23.3 per cent to $10.4 million, however this result was calculated to exclude the impact of equity expenses incurred during the first half of 2016.

Matt Spencer, CEO and managing director of Baby Bunting, said the results were in line with expectations and reflected the expansion of the company's clicks and bricks model.

"I am also happy with the performance of the new store roll-out program," says Spencer.

"We have continued to expand the network by four stores in the half, including two stores in Sydney which is our largest market opportunity in Australia.

"Complementing our store roll-out has been the very pleasing growth of our online channel which continues to expand at a rapid rate."

Baby Bunting plans to reach its target of more than 80 stores nationwide by adding between four and eight new stores each year to the network.

In addition to the four stores it has already opened in the first half, the company plans to open a further three before the year is out.

Spencer says the company's growing click and collect service, where shoppers can order goods online for pickup at their nearest store, has contributed to its success in the first half.

"This investment has resulted in some great improvements in customer experience, with click and collect orders now being fulfilled and ready for collection from stores in around 3 hours of the online order being placed," says Spencer.

While it's all good news on the books for Baby Bunting today, the share market hasn't been as kind.

Baby Bunting stock has toppled more than 6 per cent after opening at $2.46 to currently trade at $2.33.

The company has issued a fully franked interim dividend of 2.9c to be paid on 17 March.

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