Soggy weather boosts UK's Domino's Pizza

LONDON Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:04am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Rainy weather and the Euro 2012 soccer championships helped lift profits at Britain's biggest pizza delivery firm, Domino's Pizza Group (DOM.L) as people chose to stay home and order in pizzas.

"We must be one of the few people every day who come in and do rain dances at work, we love the rain because it keeps people in their homes," Domino's Chief Financial Officer, Lee Ginsberg, told Reuters.

"But it's not just the weather, we did launch some very successful products ... and Euro 2012 helped our business as well," he said.

The company, which operates the British, Irish and German franchises of the global delivery brand, said on Monday profit before tax for the six months through June rose 13.2 percent to 21.5 million pounds ($33.6 million).

Domino's is one of the few companies to thrive in Britain's soggy summer, which has hit sales and profits at retailers such as Kingfisher (KGF.L) and JJB Sports JJB.L amid an already difficult retailing climate.

Online sales rose 43.3 percent over the six months to 121.2 million pounds, and now account for more than half of delivered orders in the UK, Domino's said.

Like-for-like sales in the UK, where it has performed strongly despite an economic downturn, rose 5.7 percent up from 3.4 percent in the year before, while like-for-like sales in Ireland were up by 2.9 percent.

The company said it had opened 23 new shops and closed one during the period, giving it a total of 748, and added that it was confident of hitting its target of 60 new UK stores and 12 Germany stores by the end of the year.

The company intends to open another 18 stores in Germany next year. It hopes the German business will grow to twice the size of its British operation and will be profitable by 2015.

"Germany is coming along strongly, we're seeing some very encouraging and exciting early stages of growth there," Ginsberg said.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Wayne Brown said Domino's results were "resilient," but was disappointed that the rate of new openings had not yet increased.

"Management remain confident that 60 new UK and 12 Germany stores are achievable in 2012, but with this program now heavily second half weighted there is unlikely to be any upward revision to this target."

Shares in Domino's, which have risen 26 percent since the start of the year, were down 2 percent at 509 pence at 0948 GMT, valuing the company at 847 million pounds. ($1 = 0.6397 British pounds)

(Reporting by Brenda Goh, Editing by Neil Maidment and Jane Merriman)