* Headline loss at 59.1 cents vs earnings of 234.4 cents
* Bad debt cover increased to 1.6 bln rand from 966 mln rand
JOHANNESBURG Feb 20 South African furniture
retailer JD Group swung to first-half loss and
suspended its dividend, hit by a near-doubling of money set
aside to cover customers' unpaid debts.
JD Group, which sells beds, sofas and electronic equipment
to mass-market customers who often buy on credit, said that the
headline loss per share totalled 59.1 cents in the six months to
Dec. 31, against earnings per share (EPS) of 234.4 cents a year
Headline EPS, South Africa's main profit gauge, strips out
certain one-off and non-trading items.
The company, majority-owned by Europe-focused furniture
maker Steinhoff, said it would not pay a first-half
dividend because of the poor performance.
JD Group increased bad-debt provisions to 1.6 billion rand
($146.63 million) from 966 million rand in June last year.
South African consumers have been squeezed by inflation and
higher petrol prices in particular, caused by the weakness of
the rand, with nearly 50 percent of borrowers failing
to pay loan instalments for at least three straight months last
"Customers are facing continued pressure on disposable
income due to increased living costs and higher debt-to-income
levels, impacting spending on furniture and household goods," JD
Group said in a statement.
Sales edged up 4 percent to 17.1 billion rand.
($1 = 10.9115 South African rand)
(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by David Goodman)