TORONTO — Spring's early arrival sent demand for everything from patio furniture and inflatable pools to barbecues and bikes soaring at Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., which reported higher-than-expected sales growth in its first quarter.
Comparable sales across all of the company's retail banners, a retail industry measurement of sales within an existing store network without the effect of opening and closing stores, increased by 19.3 per cent for the three months ended April 3 compared with the year-earlier period.
The Mark's retail chain, which sells casual and industrial apparel, led the way with a 22 per cent uptick in comparable sales growth, while Canadian Tire sales rose 19.2 per cent and SportChek sales increased 18.7 per cent.
"Our multi-category assortment across all banners continues to prove integral to meeting the demand for products in backyard living, outdoor activities and home projects," chief executive officer Greg Hicks said during a conference call on Thursday.
"With an early start to spring in many parts of Canada, customers quickly shifted to thinking about outdoor sports equipment for spring and summer, outdoor living and bikes."
While many bike retailers have struggled to obtain inventory, the retailer was well positioned to benefit from surging demand for bicycles, he said.
"Our ability to reliably source stock and assemble bikes puts them within easy reach of customers," Hicks said. "This is proving to be a differentiator for us in the market."
The company's cycling categories at Canadian Tire and SportChek were up over $50 million compared to last year, he said.
The Toronto-based retailer posted a profit attributable to shareholders of $151.8 million or $2.47 per diluted share, compared with a loss of $13.3 million or 22 cents per share for the same period a year earlier.
Revenue for the quarter was $3.32 billion, up from $2.85 billion in the first quarter of 2020.
The company's financial results were better than many analysts had predicted.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 40 per cent of Canadian Tire and SportChek stores were open at the start of 2021, with Mark's slightly better with 60 per cent of stores open.
Yet the demand for outdoor gear, automotive products and home improvement items continued.
"With the early arrival of spring we saw record sales in cycling as well as strong demand for fitness-related categories such as athletic footwear and kids apparel," chief financial officer Gregory Craig said during the call to discuss the results.
"More than 60 per cent of the dealer shipment growth was to support spring and summer outdoor activities with products such as patio furniture, inflatable pools, barbecues and bikes."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:CTC, TSX:CTC.A)
The Canadian Press