The Group announces that trading in the four month period to 30 April 2019 has been mixed across our international markets.
We have continued to experience good sales growth in our two largest markets – the UK is up 5% and the US up 8% against the prior period last year. Having had a very strong finish to 2018, we anticipated slower demand in our export markets at the start of 2019, however actual export market sales, particularly for Korea, have been lower than we expected.
We have been working with our Korean distributor on new product development during 2019 which we see as critical to protect and grow this market for the long term. However this new product development, by nature, will take time to bring to market and optimise for manufacturing efficiency.
As a result, total Group sales for the first four months of the year are down 10% against the comparative period last year. While the total effect on Group sales is expected to be less than that for the full year, the Board now expects profit before taxation for the full year will be significantly below market expectations.
We do not anticipate this leading to a change in our expectations for dividend payments in the current year.
We believe our long term strategy is the right one and are pleased with the progress we are making in other areas to protect and grow our brand portfolio.