Michael Hill has provided a trading update for the 26-week period ending Dec 31 2023.

The company cited challenging retail conditions in the fine jewellery sector, as well as inflated input costs and aggressive competitor behaviour, as the reasons for its performance.

Group comparable earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) for the half year are expected to be in the range of $30 million to $33m.

While group sales, including Bevilles, were up 4.1% compared to the previous year, sales for the core Michael Hill brand were still negative.

Margins were also under pressure, with the company anticipating them to be in the range of 61% to 62%.

However, digital sales have continued to grow, representing 8% of total group sales for the half.

Michael Hill said its inventory levels remain well-managed, and it has undertaken direct actions to reduce operating costs, including the exit of senior management roles.

The company's store portfolio saw four new Bevilles stores open, while six under-performing Michael Hill stores were permanently closed.

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