Oliver Group PLC

Chairman's Statement

Oliver Group PLC
30 May 2000


The Oliver Group Plc

Annual General Meeting

At today's (30 May 2000) Annual General Meeting, Chairman, Doug Rogers told
shareholders: 
 
'In the first 16 weeks of the current financial year total sales were 1.9%
below last year. The Company traded from an average number of 274 stores
compared with an average of 278 stores in the equivalent period in 1999. Like
for like sales were down 3.1%. 
 
'The year on year comparisons in the period are distorted - not only by the
different timing of the Easter and school holiday breaks but also by the
impact in 1999 of the intensive store refurbishment programme, the benefits
of which created positive like for like growth of 7.2% in the first quarter
of 1999. 
 
'An increasing number of stores are now reaching the first anniversary of
their refit and are moving into their second year of post conversion trading.
Despite these stores being up against some exceptional comparable figures,
the converted stores, as a whole, have continued to outperform the remainder
by 5% in terms of year on year sales growth. 
 
'By the end of April, 41 stores had completed their first year trading in the
new format and had achieved average first year sales growth of 24%. 
 
'So far this year 1 further store has been converted, bringing the total
number of Olivers Timpson stores to 83 at today's date. Up to 10 further
low-cost conversions will be undertaken in the remainder of the year. 
 
'Trading conditions are tough and are expected to remain so. We continue to
maintain tight control of costs and working capital while attempting to
increase sales and maintain product margins. 
 
'Martin Watts, Chief Executive, has retired from the Company and we wish him
every success in his new career with a charitable trust. 
 
'An experienced management team of which I am the Chairman runs the business
on a day to day basis. I am very comfortable with this management forum, as I
have employed it successfully in other businesses in the past. 
 
'As you are aware, the Board has been exploring the benefits of different
possible courses of action. We will continue to work towards the achievement
of a satisfactory solution for the business and its shareholders.' 
 
Enquiries: 

Doug Rogers 
Chairman 
The Oliver Group Plc 
Tel: 0116-222 3000