Rebel Sports, Australia’s largest sporting goods retailer, issued a preliminary sales report in January for the first half of 2004-05 (See SEW_0506). In the company’s more recent, fully audited first half financial release, Rebels Sports reported a 4.4% sales increase to A$161.9 million ($118.8 mm), compared to A$155.2 million ($106.7 mm) last year. Sales revenue on a same store basis for the same period was in line with last year.

Gross margin fell 90 basis points to 36.7% of sales compared to 37.6% last year. EBITDA increased to A$20.5 million ($15.0 mm), up from A$20.0 million ($13.7 mm) in the prior period. As a percentage of sales, EBITDA remained flat at 12.7% when compared to the prior year. Operating profit increased by 5.1% to A$10.8 million ($7.9 mm), up from A$10.3 million ($7.1 mm) last year.

Net profit decreased 3.7% from A$10.9 million ($7.5 mm) last year to A$10.5 million ($7.7 mm) for the most recent half-year. Basic earnings per share decreased to A13 cents (10 cents) per share, down from A14 cents (10 cents) per share last year.

In his prepared comments, Rebel Sports Managing Director, Stephen Heath, stated that athletic branded footwear has been inconsistent with slow sales through the summer, although footwear such as premium running shoes remains healthy. Heath wrote, “…the lack of innovation and excitement surrounding fashion/trend footwear designs has caused a decline in consumer demand for this product.”

Apparel was a strong point for the retailer, but the company was forced to overcome “a poor design offer from one of the industry’s largest brands” by working to build sales of other brands.

Rebel Sports now operates 55 retail stores throughout Australia and plans on opening two additional doors in the back half.