* FY pretax profit up 10.8 pct to 46.7 mln stg
* FY UK lfl sales up 5.0 pct, up 1.6 pct in 7 wks of 2013
* To open 60 stores in the UK, 18 in Germany in 2013
* Final div up 16.2 pct to 7.9p, shares down 1.5 pct
By Neil Maidment
LONDON, Feb 25 Domino's Pizza, Britain's
biggest pizza delivery firm, said heavy snow hit its UK sales at
the start of 2013, after surging online demand helped to lift
annual profit 11 percent.
The firm, which operates the British, Irish and German
franchises of the global delivery brand, said on Monday pretax
profit for the year to Dec. 30 was 46.7 million pounds ($71
million), up 10.8 percent on 2011, and in line with forecasts.
Domino's promotions and popular online ordering service have
struck a chord with cash-strapped British consumers opting for
cheaper nights in over more expensive meals out.
Store openings, online demand, new stuffed-crust products
and a busy summer of sporting events all helped sales at UK
shops open more than a year rise 5.0 percent in 2012, up from
3.7 percent growth a year earlier, the firm said.
Group sales rose 13 percent to 598.6 million pounds.
Domino's said online sales now made up 55.7 percent of UK
delivered sales, up from 44.3 percent the year before. Almost 20
percent of those orders came via mobile devices, it added, with
demand in general being driven by more targeted marketing on
social media forums like Facebook and Twitter.
"We are almost a digital business now," Chief Financial
Officer Lee Ginsberg told Reuters, adding that in one recent
week a dozen of its stores had received over 80 percent of their
delivered sales online.
Bad weather and heavy snow had hit progress at the start of
2013, the firm said, with 498 UK stores forced to close at some
point during the first seven weeks of the year.
School holidays also took place later this year compared
with 2012, slowing underlying UK sales growth to 1.6 percent in
the period, compared with a 3.8 percent rise in 2012.
Shares in firm, which upped its dividend by 16.2 percent to
7.90 pence, were down 1.5 percent to 529.75 pence at 0923 GMT.
"We are not troubled by the slow start to the current year,
given that it is only seven weeks and the recent snow has
clearly had an impact," analysts at Peel Hunt said, adding they
liked the firm's international expansion strategy.
The group, which opened a record 69 shops in 2012 to take it
to 805 stores, has been expanding in Europe, acquiring franchise
rights to operate in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and
Liechtenstein. It also has an option to open in Austria in 2014.
Long term, Domino's sees its German business growing to
twice the size of its British arm and said on Monday it would
double the number of stores there this year to 36, as well as
adding another 60 in the UK. It expects to be profitable in
Germany by the end of 2015.
The group said some German stores in Düsseldorf and Cologne
had been making 18,000 euros a week recently, well ahead of its
expectations and better than the 5,000 pounds its UK stores were
making at the same early stage.
"There's a resonance with our consumer out there that we are
getting things right," Ginsberg said.