Sales in comparable stores increased by 8.4% in the first 20 weeks of its 2024 financial year to Jan. 14, with selling price inflation averaging 7.5%. Overall group turnover rose by 8% to 16.8 billion rand ($878.71 million).

Chief executive Bertina Engelbrecht said Clicks achieved its highest ever daily sales on Friday, Dec. 22, while the week preceding Christmas was a record trading week for the chain.

Strong growth in personal care, beauty and everyday essentials was supported by strong sales of private label and exclusive brands, Clicks said.

Sorbet, the beauty salon chain acquired by the group in June 2023, increased franchise and corporate sales by 12.3% over the comparable period.

However, total managed turnover at United Pharmaceutical Distributors (UPD) - its bulk and wholesale division - declined by 6.3% due to its strategy of rationalising its bulk distribution portfolio to focus on profitable clients.

This strategy is expected to benefit margin, Engelbrecht said.

UPD's wholesale turnover was 0.8% lower, owing mainly to the impact of the systems transition at UPD's main distribution centre, the group added.

($1 = 19.1189 rand)

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, editing by Ed Osmond)