October 18, 2016 / 6:05 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Pick n Pay Stores posts 23.7 pct rise in half-year profit

(Adds detail, CEO comment)

Oct 18 (Reuters) - South African retailer Pick n Pay Stores Ltd on Tuesday posted a 23.7 percent rise in half-year profit as it continued to cut costs in a tough trading environment.

* Headline earnings per share (HEPS) - increased 23.7 percent to 82.43 cents from 66.62 cents per share for the half-year to end-August.

* “The Pick n Pay turnaround plan remains firmly on track. We are improving our shopping trip, introducing more products, becoming ever more efficient, and reducing our costs,” Chief Executive Richard Brasher said in a statement.

* In a tough trading environment with sluggish economic growth, depressed consumer confidence and heightened competition, the firm said it improved trading profit margin to 1.5 percent from 1.3 percent of turnover.

* Pick n Pay, which also trades in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia, said it is on track with developing its operations in Ghana and Nigeria; with its first Ghana store to open towards the end of 2017 and first Nigeria store in 2018.

* Group turnover at 37.4 billion rand, increased 7.2 percent on last year.

* Headline EPS is the main profit measure in South Africa and strips out certain one-off items.

* Directors have declared an interim gross dividend of 29.90 cents per share out of income reserves. Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: (Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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