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Victoria board anticipates breakeven outcome in H1
Oct '12
Victoria PLC reports the following update on trading for the six months to 29 September 2012 ahead of its Half-yearly results to be announced in mid-November 2012.

Trading throughout the Group has been satisfactory, particularly in the light of the prevailing difficult market and economic conditions in both of the Group's principal operating territories. Market share has been maintained or increased in poor market conditions but overall Group sales will be below those in the equivalent period last year. The Board is anticipating a breakeven outcome in the first half, after continued investment in new product initiatives and before exceptional costs.

Careful management of stock and working capital has resulted in net debt at the end of the first half to be less than budgeted, and in the UK, the Company has also recently successfully secured new banking facilities, moving a substantial amount of borrowings from short term overdraft to fixed longer term facilities which will expire in 2015. This will provide the Board with the financial capacity to grow the business pursuant to its strategy.
United Kingdom & Ireland
Trading conditions in the UK and Ireland have remained extremely tough during the first half, with both weak consumer sentiment and the impact of the Jubilee and Olympics reducing footfall on the High Street. Despite this, Victoria has continued to gain market share in the UK with sales significantly ahead of the corresponding period last year.
As reported in the Interim Management Statement issued on 15 August 2012, the Group's UK business continues to see increased sales to the John Lewis Partnership, the Insurance Replacement Market and within both the contract and export markets. In addition, the Company is seeing sales growth in the Luxury Vinyl Tile market that the Group entered earlier this year and from other new carpet product ranges recently introduced. It is anticipated that these new product sales will help off-set any further market weakness in the UK & Ireland.
As previously reported, revenues in Australia in the first quarter of this financial year were 10.9% below those in the corresponding period last year as the Australian economy continued to slow.
In August and September, which are generally considered to be the start of a strong seasonal run into Christmas summer holiday period, there has been no sign of an uplift in sales; rather the market appears to be deteriorating further.

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