McColl's share price rises as sales grow but COO quits

IPO WATCH: The convenience store chain's first half sales rose 3.6% after a tricky IPO.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 22 Sep 2014

McColl’s has had a mixed year, floating at the height of IPO over-excitement earlier this year, but seeing its share price go almost exclusively down. It was probably something of a relief to unveil a decent first set of results since publicly listing, then, but it wasn’t party poppers at dawn today as the company also announced its chief operating officer has quit.

The convenience store chain’s like-for-like sales rose 2.1% in the 26 weeks to May 25 and climbed 3.6% to £444.2m including new shops. It posted a loss before tax of £4m, after £6.2m ‘exceptional costs’ from its February float, but operating profit before that was up a respectable 14.6% to £10m.

The retailer had 747 convenience stores and 544 newsagents at the end of the period, after adding 23 ‘premium convenience stores’ (shinier lottery tickets, perhaps?), and said it was on track to open its 1,000th of the former by 2016.

Not too shabby, then, considering the downward trajectory of its share price since the spring. It listed at 191p, fell as low as 159.25p in May and is now back up to 169p.

But the resignation of McColl’s chief operating officer Martyn Aguss shows some companies just can’t have it all. A source close to the company said it was down to ‘personal reasons’, adding ‘this is not to do with performance and was entirely Martyn’s decision’.

He is being replaced by current operations director Dave Thomas, who is already on the board. Meanwhile, Chief exec James Lancaster is stepping down from his joint role as chairman, meaning the top table will (probably sensibly) become more streamlined, as well as compliant with the Corporate Governance Code. Investors, though, greeted the mixed bag of news with a shrug: shares ticked up just 0.3% in mid-morning trading.

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