Retail: Companies wait for demand revival

Demonetisation is expected to adversely affect near-term sales—a good enough reason to keep these stocks out of fashion till a sustainable sales recovery is visible


At Bata, a high level of competition from multinationals as well as e-commerce firms adversely impacted revenue growth, according to an ICICI Direct report. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
At Bata, a high level of competition from multinationals as well as e-commerce firms adversely impacted revenue growth, according to an ICICI Direct report. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Consumers seem to be keeping a tight grip on their wallets. At least that’s what the financial performance of retail firms—Shoppers Stop Ltd, Titan Co. Ltd and Bata India Ltd—for the September quarter show.

Titan’s revenue declined 1%, year-on-year. It derived as much as 74% revenue from jewellery, which saw a very marginal below 1% revenue growth. Higher prices took a toll on gold demand. Jewellery sales volume fell 32%.

On the brighter side, better studded jewellery mix and benefits to gold jewellery margin due to higher gold prices helped improve gross margins. Titan’s next main segment—the watch business—which contributed one-fifth of revenue, saw a 5% revenue decline.

Shoppers Stop Ltd’s 2.2% like-to-like sales growth in department stores was hardly inspiring. What’s more, like-to-like sales volume declined 3.1%. Like-to-like sales growth is the comparable sales growth of stores that have been operational for at least a year.

Sure, Bata India Ltd’s operating profit margin expanded 80 basis points to 9.2% aided by a 5% decline in other expenses. But revenue growth of a mere 1.5% was disappointing. High level of competition from multinationals as well as e-commerce firms adversely impacted revenue growth, according to an ICICI Direct report. One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

The outlook doesn’t get any better either. For Bata India, “H2FY17 is expected to be hit on account of demonetisation resulting in a decline in footfalls, consequently leading to a fall in revenues for FY17E,” adds ICICI.

Following a subdued quarter, Shoppers Stop has revised its like-to-like growth estimates downwards to 5-5.5% (from 8%) for fiscal 2017, said analysts from Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd in a report on 7 November. But results were announced pre-demonetisation and things could well end up even slower.

In a conference call on 2 December, Titan’s management said its jewellery sales were back to the levels seen in pre-demonetisation and post-Diwali performance. However, there was a hit to sales after demonetisation announcement on 8 November. The stock has shed about 16% since the demonetisation announcement till 2 December.

Shoppers Stop and Bata India saw about an 18% and an 11% fall in their respective share prices during the same time frame.

Demonetisation is expected to adversely affect near-term sales. That is a good enough reason to keep these stocks out of fashion till a sustainable sales recovery is visible.

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