The interim financial report of Venue Retail Group for the nine months ended May 31 showed continued strong sales development for all chains within the group. The net turnover for the group was 623.2 million Swedish kronor (€68.6m-$98.2m), up by 2.3 percent from the year before, despite fewer stores. Confirming its turnaround, the Scandinavian shoe and leathergoods retailer made an operating profit before amortization of SEK 51.1 million (€5.6m-$8.1m), up sharply from SEK 1.5 million in the same period of the previous year.

Accessories, which are retailed through the group's Accent and Morris, chains, had a turnover of SEK 442.3 million (€48.7m-$69.7m) for the latest nin-month period, down slightly from SEK 442.6 million the year before. The group's high-end shoe retail chain, Rizzo, reached sales of SEK 180.9 million (€19.9m-$28.5m), a nice increase from SEK 166.8 million the previous year.

As of May 2011, the total number of stores was 126, as compared to 140 the year earlier, plus one franchise store in Norway. There were 46 Accent stores in Sweden, one Accent store in Finland and 64 Morris stores in Norway. There were 15 Rizzo stores in Sweden, Norway and Finland at the end of the period, compared with 16 in May 2010.

Looking at the geographical markets, the group's total sales in Sweden amounted to SEK 335.3 million (€36.9m-$52.8m) in the nine-month period, up from SEK 305.5 million the year before. Sales declined in Norway to the equivalent of SEK 273.6 million (€30.1m-$43.1m) from SEK 281.7 million. They fell in Finland to SEK 14.3 million (€1.6m-$2.3m) from SEK 22.4 million.

The group managed to improve its gross profit margin in the ninz-month period to 58.8 percent from 56.4 percent in the year-earlier period. The operating profit was SEK 36.3 million (€4.0m-$5.7m), in contrast with a loss of SEK 18.8 million the year before. In the Swedish market, the operating results turned around to a profit of SEK 20.0 million (€2.2m-$3.2m) from a loss of SEK 8.6 million. In Norway, there was an operating profit of SEK 15.0 million (€1.7m-$2.4m) against a loss of SEK 8.6 million. In Finland, a profit of SEK 1.3 million (€143,000-$204,800) stood against a loss of SEK 1.6 million.

In the third quarter ended May 31, the Venue Retail Group experienced a net turnover of SEK 172.5 million (€19.0m-$27.2m), up from SEK 165.5 million the year before. Sales of accessories were still down, whereas Rizzo raised its net turnover to SEK 48.6 million (€5.3m-$7.7m), up from SEK 45.4 million. The gross profit margin of the group was up to 58.2 percent from 55.7 percent, but the company suffered an operating loss of SEK 5.6 million (€616,150-$882,250), down from SEK 22 million in the same quarter of the prior year. The result before amortization was a loss of SEK 1.2 million (€132,000-$189,050), much less than the loss of SEK 16 million the year.

All the chains within the group performed better than the market in the latest quarter, the management noted. On a comparable store basis, the group increased its sales of shoes and accessories in Sweden by 9 percent, while the retail market for these products rose by 2 percent. The company's same-store sales in Sweden went up by 10 percent for Accent and by 7 percent for Rizzo. In Norway, the increase in the group's sales on a comparable basis reached by 18 percent, which was also better than the market. The group's total sales in the Nordic countries increased by 13 percent in comparable units against the same quarter last year.

Important factors that caused this positive sales development were a clear focus on customer service in the stores, changes in product ranges, and improved communication strategies, according to the company's chief executive, Susanne Börjesson.