Dollarama won’t tinker with prices to adjust to falling Canadian dollar

MONTREAL – Dollarama says the falling Canadian dollar is challenging the discount chain’s efforts to find low-priced new products, but it won’t tinker with prices to compensate for currency fluctuations.

“We want to continue giving value and managing that value is an art and a challenge,” CEO Larry Rossy said Thursday during a conference call to discuss its third-quarter results.

He said it’s easier to manage when the dollar is rising, but the currency fluctuations are something it has to “play every day.”

“We just aren’t going to make massive changes because that may be temporary,” he told analysts.

Dollarama is buying next year’s Halloween products at a time when the loonie is about six per cent less valuable than a year ago.

The Canadian dollar traded at 93.9 cents US on Thursday, down from $1.0086 on the same date in 2012.

The Montreal-based retailer’s sales and profits continued double-digit growth in the quarter.

Dollarama earned $61.7 million or 87 cents per diluted share during the period ended Nov. 3. That was up 28 per cent from $51.5 million or 68 cents per share in the prior year.

Revenues were up 14.2 per cent to $522.9 million while comparable-store sales grew 4.8 per cent on a 2.9 per cent increase in average transaction size and a 1.9 per cent increase in the number of transactions.

Dollarama (TSX:DOL) was expected to earn 87 cents per share on $526.3 million of revenues, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

The company said the sales increase was driven by the addition of more than 80 stores compared with a year ago including 19 net new stores in the third quarter.

The chain had 847 stores countrywide, up from 761 a year ago. Dollarama is on pace to open at least 85 net new stores primarily in Ontario and Western Canada this fiscal year. It plans to open between 70 and 80 more locations in its 2015 financial year.

Sales of items priced at more than $1 continued to increase and represented 62 per cent of sales in the quarter, up from 57 per cent a year ago when the $2.50 and $3 items were introduced. More than 40 per cent of sales were paid by debit cards, where transactions were 2.2 times larger than those paid by cash.

Rossy said the retailer won’t alter it’s way of doing business in reaction to new competition or the addition of dollar aisles by some retailers. Nor does he see any impact so far from the arrival to Canada of U.S. giant Target.

“I guess we were expecting them to be more successful and have a bigger bang here in Canada. They are struggling as has been well-noted.”

Analyst Irene Nattel of RBC Capital Markets said the results were strong but “shy of forecast” due to lower store openings and slightly higher costs.

“Overall would describe the quarter as solid. Comparable sales continue to lead the pack and 15 per cent EBITDA growth on one-year basis, 35.4 per cent on two-year stacked basis remains sector-leading,” she wrote in a report.

“We remain confident that Dollarama can deliver solid high teens EPS growth through our forecast period.”