Promotions drive 20-week sales rise for South Africa's Clicks drug chain

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 23 (Reuters) - South African drugstore chain Clicks Group reported a 9.9% rise in 20-week sales on Thursday, driven by value promotions in the deteriorating consumer spending environment.

Special offers have helped Clicks drive volume despite the squeeze on retailers from high household debts, increased fuel and electricity prices, slow economic growth and a hike in value-added tax.

Group turnover increased to 12.9 billion rand ($900 million) in the 20 weeks to Jan. 12. Sales in its retail health and beauty units, which include Clicks and franchise brands GNC, The Body Shop and Claire’s, rose by 9%.

“Our wide range of gifting and value offering, supported by the convenience of the Clicks chain’s extensive retail and pharmacy footprint, ensured that we maintained our robust sales momentum of recent years and sustained volume growth,” Clicks group Chief Executive Vikesh Ramsunder said in a statement.

“This was achieved despite the increasing pressures on consumer disposable income, negative sentiment and the serious impact of electricity load shedding on retail trading hours and shoppers in general over the past two months,” he said.

United Pharmaceutical Distributors, the group’s pharmaceutical distributor, increased total managed turnover by 10.2% as the business traded well and benefited from gaining new wholesale and distribution contracts. ($1 = 14.3325 rand) (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)