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Edited Transcript of DOL.TO earnings conference call or presentation 12-Sep-19 2:30pm GMT

Q2 2020 Dollarama Inc Earnings Call

MONTREAL Sep 12, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Dollarama Inc earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 2:30:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Michael Ross

Dollarama Inc. - CFO

* Neil Rossy

Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Anthony Bonadio

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Associate Analyst

* Brian Morrison

TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst

* Irene Ora Nattel

RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD of Global Equity Research

* Keith Howlett

Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst

* Luke Hannan

Canaccord Genuity Corp., Research Division - Associate

* Mark Robert Petrie

CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Research Analyst

* Patricia A. Baker

Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst

* Peter Sklar

BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst

* Renato Oscar Basanta

Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Vishal Shreedhar

National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good morning, and welcome to the Dollarama Fiscal 2020 Second Quarter Results Conference Call. Neil Rossy, President and CEO; and Michael Ross, CFO, will make a short presentation, which will be followed by a question-and-answer period open exclusively to financial analysts. The press release, financial statements and management's discussion analysis are available at dollarama.com in the Investor Relations section as well as on SEDAR.

Before we start, I have been asked by Dollarama to read the following message regarding forward-looking statements. Dollarama's remarks today may contain forward-looking statements about current and future plans, expectations, intentions, results, levels of activity, performance, goals or achievements of Dollarama or Dollarcity or any other future events or developments that may affect Dollarama or Dollarcity. Forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to management and on estimates and assumptions made based on factors that management believes are appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances. However, there can be no assurance that such estimates and assumptions will prove to be correct. Many factors could cause actual results, levels of activity, performance, achievements, future events or developments to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. As a result, Dollarama cannot guarantee that any forward-looking statements will materialize and you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. For additional information on underlying assumptions and risks, please consult the cautionary statement regarding forward-looking information contained in Dollarama's MD&A dated September 12, 2019, and in Dollarama's press release announcing the Dollarcity transaction dated July 2, 2019, both available on SEDAR. Forward-looking statements represent management expectations as at September 12, 2019. And except as may be required by law, Dollarama has no intention and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

I would now like to turn the conference call over to Neil Rossy.

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [2]

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Thank you, operator, and good morning, everyone. This morning we released our second quarter financial results and we are very pleased with our sustained top line performance throughout the first half of the fiscal year. These results are particularly encouraging, given the current Canadian economic and retail environment. Factors contributing to this solid performance include our continued focus on category management and various merchandising tactics, supported by strong execution by our stores. We are very focused on stimulating traffic and increasing basket size, and pleased with consumer response to date. We continue to survey our customers to ensure their offering and our concept resonates. What we continue to hear is that Dollarama is a destination for a broad range of Canadian consumers who recognize our compelling value and this is a testament to the strength of our business model.

This year has been all about fine-tuning that model and about leveraging our strength, and we are pleased with our progress. We have been carefully expanding our product offering where we see opportunity to provide customers with new, exciting products at compelling value across existing categories. We believe that positive consumer response to this expanded offering has contributed to SSS growth of 4.7% this quarter. As a reminder, the official numbers we disclosed annually are over 4,000 active year-round SKUs and over 700 active seasonal SKUs at any one time. An increase in our SKU count is very manageable for us from an inventory and merchandising perspective, in addition to providing customers with even more variety. Based on our strong top line performance to date, the result of a varied and compelling offering, coupled with several successful merchandising tactics, we have revised our full year same-store sales assumption upwards.

Looking now at the bottom line, we do expect margins to continue to be impacted by a slight decrease in the product margin, higher sales of a lower margin item and higher logistics costs throughout the remainder of the year. As a result, we have narrowed our previously disclosed guidance range for the full fiscal year to the lower half. We are confident that our sustained focus on stimulating top line growth, while still maintaining industry-leading margins, is the right approach in what continues to be a competitive retail environment.

On the operational front, we opened 14 net new stores in Q2 compared to 8 in Q2 last year. Total store count rose to 1,250 stores. Our store pipeline is strong and we are on track to meet our target of 60 to 70 net new stores for fiscal 2020. Our distribution center expansion project is almost completed and remains on time and on budget. As previously discussed, the current phase consists of the integration of the new building extension with the existing facility and the installation of equipment. This work is ongoing since last quarter and is expected to be completed before the end of the current calendar year. Once completed, our expanded distribution center will enable us to easily support our long-term growth plan of 1,700 stores across Canada by 2027.

Finally, before I pass it over to Michael, a few words on Dollarcity. Subsequent to quarter-end, we officially closed our previously announced transaction to acquire a 50.1% interest in Dollarcity, which is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings, and made an upfront payment of $40 million. As per transaction terms, this represents just under half of the total estimated purchase price, which will be calculated based on Dollarcity's audited financial statements for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020. This truly marks the beginning of a new phase in Dollarama's growth trajectory. By establishing a second-growth platform in Latin America and complement to our existing Canadian growth strategy, we are excited about this market's potential and confident in the Dollarcity management team's ability to execute on its growth objectives. As previously disclosed, the objective is to reach 600 Dollarcity stores by 2029 in the 3 current countries of operation, with the majority of store growth to be focused in Columbia. The target for the 2019 calendar year is to open 40 to 50 net new stores. Dollarcity opened 11 net new stores in its Q1 and an additional 12 stores in its Q2. This brings its total store count to 192 stores, with 91 locations in Columbia, 45 in El Salvador and 56 in Guatemala as at June 30, 2019, and nearly at the halfway mark of its annual target.

Michael, over to you.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [3]

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Thank you, Neil, and good morning, everyone. So looking now at our financial results and updates to our annual guidance. Sales were up 9% to over $946 million and same-store sales growth was also very strong at 4.7%, as explained by Neil a moment ago. So comparable store sales growth for the second quarter of fiscal 2020 consisted of a 3.8% increase in average transaction size, primarily driven by an increase in the number of units per basket and a 0.9% increase in the number of transactions. This is the second consecutive quarter of strong same-store sales. As a result of our performance to date this year, we are revising upwards our full year same-store sales assumption to a range of 3.5% to 4.5% from a previous range of 3% to 4%.

Neil also touched on gross margin, which stood at 43.7% of sales, coming in lower year-over-year. Based on performance to-date and on the visibility on open orders and product margins for the next 3 months, we are narrowing our previously disclosed guidance range on gross margin as a percentage of sales to 43.25% to 43.75% from 43.25% to 44.5%. SG&A represented 13.9% of sales this quarter, just slightly higher year-over-year as a percentage of sales due to timing of certain expenses. Annual guidance remains unchanged and in the range of 14.25% to 14.75%. EBITDA was up 3.5% to $281.6 million, representing 29.8% of sales. Net earnings were $143.2 million, a 2% increase over the prior year. And diluted earnings per share grew 7.1% to $0.45. Note that annual guidance on EBITDA has also been adjusted to reflect adjustments to the annual gross margin guidance. CapEx for Q2 of fiscal 2020 totaled $30.4 million compared to $26.8 million in the prior year, with the increase attributed to more store openings. Annual guidance here remains unchanged in the range of $130 million to $140 million.

Looking at capital allocation, our Board approved a quarterly dividend of $0.044 per share. During the quarter, we also announced a renewal of our normal course issuer bid, allowing us to repurchase for cancellation up to 15,737,468 common shares during the 12-month period from July 5, 2019, to July 4, 2020. This represents 5% of the common shares issued and outstanding as of the close of markets on July 2, 2019. During Q2, a total of 314,223 common shares were repurchased for cancellation under the NCIB program for a total cash consideration of $15.5 million.

Finally, a few comments on Dollarcity accounting before we turn to the Q&A. As per the stockholder agreement, we entered into with the Dollarcity founding group, while we have a majority stake of 50.1%, certain strategic and operational decisions require 100% stockholder approval. As such, we will not be consolidating Dollarcity results. Dollarcity is considered an equity investment, and this investment will be accounted for using the equity method. The closing as well as the upfront payment of USD 40 million took place on August 14, and -- so subsequent to Q2 quarter-end. As a result, this payment, along with Dollarama's share of Dollarcity's net income for the period of August 14, 2019, to September 30, 2019, the end of Dollarcity's third quarter, will be reflected in our third quarter fiscal 2020 financial results, so next quarter. We will also record the balance of the purchase price, currently estimated between USD 45 million and USD 55 million, as a liability in Q3. As a reminder, the total purchase price for this 50.1% equity interest is estimated at between USD 85 million and USD 95 million based on a 5x multiple of Dollarcity's estimated EBITDA for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020, minus net debt and subject to other adjustments as per the terms of the stock purchase agreement entered into on July 2, 2019. The current purchase price estimate is based on financial projections, whereas the final purchase price will be calculated based on audited financial statements for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020. The balance will be settled in the third quarter of Dollarama's fiscal year 2021.

So that concludes our formal remarks. I will now turn it over to the operator to take questions from financial analysts.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question is from Karen Short with Barclays.

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Renato Oscar Basanta, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [2]

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This is actually Renato Basanta on the line for Karen. So my first question is really on the comp. I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about the cadence of comps in the quarter and then, potentially into 3Q? And then also if there was any impact of weather on the comp as well?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [3]

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Okay. So well it was -- the comp, it was steady throughout the quarter. So it's been continuing the momentum since Q1. As to the weather, I think you've heard from others that weather impacted them. So it had an impact also. If we would've had nicer weather, we think it would've certainly helped out a bit more. But essentially, I mean we are very happy with the results we got throughout the whole 3 months.

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Renato Oscar Basanta, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [4]

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Okay. That's helpful. And then just on the traffic. I'm curious if this was -- if your result was in line with your internal expectations. You're clearly showing some good growth in consumables categories. So I'm wondering if the consumables growth is driving the type of traffic that you would've expected.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [5]

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So the -- so first of all, as we said since the beginning of the year, we're working hard on -- because we don't have the benefit of the recent introduction of higher price point or inflation. So we're definitely working on stimulating more traffic and more units, that has been our tactic. So yes, we're happy to see that the results support the efforts that we've been putting. And that's what we're definitely looking to do. And it's not just in consumable, its -- many of our -- the majority of our categories, consumable definitely, as we said, picked up in the mix, and that's because of initiatives that we had internally. But just so that it's clear with everyone, it's not just consumables.

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Renato Oscar Basanta, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [6]

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Okay. And then just last one for me. Can you just talk a little bit about the queue line rollout to the rest of the stores? I think you said that you do about 200 of them a year. But I'm just wondering why that rollout can't be accelerated, given it looks like it's been and it could be a pretty decent comp driver?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [7]

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Yes. So you're right. That's about the pace that we have. We open it up as quickly as we can. We have other initiatives also that benefit us. And so we're doing the maximum to deploy all these initiatives and we'll be looking to fill up the capital -- the CapEx envelop this year to make sure that we do so. So you can be sure that we're maximizing on that aspect.

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Operator [8]

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Our next question is from Edward Kelly with Wells Fargo.

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Anthony Bonadio, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Associate Analyst [9]

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This is Anthony Bonadio on for Ed. So just quickly on your updated gross margin guide, can you just help us understand more fully your decision to tripping the top end of the guide? I know you mentioned some improvement in product mix coming through the remainder of the year in last call. Was that not as much as expected? Or has there been a change in the competitive environment we should be thinking about?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [10]

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Okay. So you're talking about the margin -- did I -- I missed the beginning.

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Anthony Bonadio, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Associate Analyst [11]

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Yes, gross margin guidance.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [12]

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Yes. Okay. Yes, okay. So we explained to you last quarter, there are 3 pieces that impact gross margin this year. There's one that's a one-timer this year, which is related to logistics costs. The impact being greater in Q1 and Q2 and not as much in Q3, Q4, because of the scaling impact because sales are stronger Q3 and then Q4. So that remains exactly like we had thought and estimated.

The other one, the mix that we just talked about. In other words, the queue line stimulating more impulse sales and things like that. So they are higher sales of lower-margin items, so that's in line with what we had expected, so that continues.

The third one, which had an impact, relates to the compelling value. In other words, that other 70%. So we've decided because of the momentum and what we're seeing right now, in other words stimulating that top line, that we decided to be extra careful, if you want, or to be strategic in not marking up products. Again, as we told you, we analyze more and more our products and the impact they have, and we decide to maintain the course given the results we're feeling. So that -- we talked last year that compared to the prior years, we had reduced significantly the markups. Well, this is continuing this year. So we had anticipated maybe having a bit higher margins but given the momentum we're seeing, we've decided to do -- to be more cautious on that side and to keep on with the top line momentum building.

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Anthony Bonadio, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Associate Analyst [13]

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Got it. That's really helpful. And then just real quick, on the U.S.-China trade situation, given tensions have somewhat escalated a little bit. What are you hearing from your overseas partners in China? And do you expect to see any kind of purchasing opportunity going forward, towards the end of the year?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [14]

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It's a complicated question and honestly, it changes day by day, the answer to that question. But certainly, instability, whether caused by nations other than the relationship between Canada and China, are not good for the marketplace as a whole. And factories that would be creating new modes and putting money into R&D for the U.S. market are on standby right now and that has an impact on the retailers of the balance of the world, whether it's Europe or Canada or everywhere else because we all benefit from each other's creativity and productivity. They benefit from ours, we benefit from theirs. And in the end, all retailers prefer that the environment is one of stimulation and excitement.

So it really depends on where that goes and how long it's for. If it's short, it's not a big deal. If it's sustained, it'll just make it more challenging for us to source goods. Not so much a cost issue as a new item issue. But to date, it's still very stable, and I don't foresee there being any really big challenges, unless it goes on for a year plus.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [15]

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And Neil, is it fair to add that we're all on same level playing field. So it's...

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [16]

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Yes. It's a very valid point, which is, if it impacts us, it impacts every other Canadian retailer equally. And so in our market, it's all about relative value and relative creativity. And so we're all on a level-playing field regardless of what happens with the China-U. S. tariff discussions.

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Operator [17]

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Our next question is from Irene Nattel with RBC Capital Markets.

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Irene Ora Nattel, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD of Global Equity Research [18]

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Neil, I was intrigued by the commentary around increase in SKU counts. And I was wondering if you could provide us more color around, sort of, price points, categories, the objective and what types of products you're adding that are really helping to drive your basket and traffic?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [19]

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Well, the beauty, Irene, is that it's not a specific category or a specific price point, thankfully, because that would be restrictive. We are simply adding to the mix across the board. And what we have a better appreciation of is our ability at store level to handle more SKUs, and we have a better understanding of which departments can handle more SKUs at any given price point or at any given category. And truthfully, there is a varied mix, and I can't really pinpoint a category or 2 that are leading the way. There's some in all of them, which is nice because it also makes it far easier for operations people to integrate the new SKUs. If they were in a specific section or 2, we'd have to redo the entire store plan and that's not the case.

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Irene Ora Nattel, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD of Global Equity Research [20]

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And presumably, Neil, your enhanced data-analytic capability sort of kind of keeps an eye on, I guess, the inventory turns and whether those new SKUs are coming at the expense of existing SKUs. And kind of do you see yourself may be rationalizing some of the older SKUs as part of the refresh?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [21]

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Well, the answer is, yes. It's always -- that's the day-to-day life of a retailer. So on a daily basis, 1 SKUs comes, 1 SKU goes and truthfully, the impact of additional SKUs on that analysis has no real impact on our day-to-day tasks.

What's important is that -- and I guess it simplifies the job, the fact that we study our SKUs so frequently and we churn items so quickly and change items so quickly, makes the job of adding SKUs and changing SKUs easier on us than it would if you had a more fixed planogram, I guess, seems logical.

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Irene Ora Nattel, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD of Global Equity Research [22]

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That's great. And Neil, also interested in your comments around customer value or consumer value perception. Obviously, you've been working hard to invest in that. Have you recently updated the studies that you do? And any insights you can share with us there?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [23]

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We have updated those studies. And according to our incredibly on-the-ball CFO, I'm not allowed to share the results of those studies -- those details, I guess, are proprietary knowledge. And what we'll do with them is, to the best affordability, use them to make our customers and the analysts happy.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [24]

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But we can -- in terms of overall, the general comment being that the compelling -- the reason they shop at Dollarama is for the compelling value. So we're not going to give out details on the specifics. But generally, again, I think it's clear that consumer base, again, like it was in prior years, come to Dollarama because of the value proposition.

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [25]

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And the treasure hunt, too. That changing of SKUs and refresh is a key part of our success.

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Irene Ora Nattel, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD of Global Equity Research [26]

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And just finally, last one for me, kind of tying these 2 questions together. As you -- is it your intention to, sort of, churn sort of the SKUs or add more SKUs kind of in and out to really enhance that treasure hunt aspect?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [27]

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We're always trying to do that. Truthfully, it's easier at times and harder at other times, depending on the creativity of the market as a whole. That comes back a bit to the point of how much the manufacturers of the world are being stimulated by expanding global success, in a sense. When world markets are having a harder time, there's less creativity, and so that makes the buyers' jobs on a sourcing front, whether domestic or abroad, more challenging. But we are always trying to change up, obviously, our weakest SKUs to -- for stronger SKUs, thousands of times a year. So it's an ongoing project.

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Operator [28]

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Our next question is from Mark Petrie with CIBC.

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Mark Robert Petrie, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Research Analyst [29]

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I just had a couple of follow-ups and sort of smaller questions. But regarding the increased number of SKUs, I mean is this really just a reflection of sort of your store-level operating efficiency that's letting you put more items on the shelf with less safety stock? Is that kind of the gist of it?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [30]

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Certainly, that is a part of the reason, a major part. The fact that our stores are being operated better than they ever have and the fact that our logistics and replenishment is stronger than it's ever been allows us the luxury to reduce safety stocks and to manage the shelf space at store level better than we ever have.

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Mark Robert Petrie, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Research Analyst [31]

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And when did this sort of change or tweak began? And has it sort of run its course in the stores now or is that still taking place?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [32]

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I would say it began about beginning of the year.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [33]

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Beginning of the year was already...

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [34]

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Beginning of the year. And I think that particular discussion about additional SKUs will probably run its course in about 3 to 9 months specifically.

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Mark Robert Petrie, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Research Analyst [35]

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Okay. And does this have any impact on sort of labor rates and sort of SG&A leverage in the stores? Or is this kind of baked in -- I mean I assume it's baked into your guidance, but is this just baked into the ongoing sort of efficiency that you guys are able to extract from the stores?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [36]

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Yes, the latter. Yes.

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Mark Robert Petrie, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Research Analyst [37]

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Yes. Okay. And then just, Michael, I guess with regards to the gross margin in Q2 specifically, you've called out those 3 factors. Can you give us a sense of the magnitude of the impact of each of those 3 factors?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [38]

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No. Well, other than what I said. If we mentioned it's because it's -- it has an impact. And the one where I give you some sense would be logistics because in Q3 and Q4, that should allow the margin to come back in a bit because of the scaling impact. And for the others, it clearly, has, if you compare to last year, an impact. So it's a decrease compared to last year. And now between now and the end of the year because we do have some flexibility. And as I've said earlier, given the momentum -- and I'd say we're doing less, for example, markups than we did last year and last year was much less than the year before. And so we control that aspect. And we go with what we see, what we feel for the moment and that can evolve between now and the end of the year.

So if you feel there's some good, strong top line, maybe that'll push the margin towards the 38%. And -- or if we can do top line and margin at the same time, we will. We're not throwing margins out the window. It's done in a -- we talk about it regularly. And so -- but we're comfortable with the ranges we gave to you right now. And the aim is to continue stimulating that top line with the unit and traffic until the -- at least the end of this year.

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Mark Robert Petrie, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Research Analyst [39]

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Yes. Understood. No, I appreciate that. And then just last on the SG&A, you called out sort of a timing -- some timing noise, how material was that? And is that just recouped in Q3? Or could you just talk about that please?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [40]

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Yes. So it's 2 things. So some of it relates to last year. So last year Q2 a bit lower, for example, than normal. And this year Q2 in other situation has been higher. So it's a mix. Like G&A, it always depends on -- like I've said in the past, depends on what projects we're working on and the timing of those projects' expenses related to the DC or to other projects. So -- but our revised -- well, it's not revised in this case, but the guidance we gave you in terms of SG&A reflects this in Q2.

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Operator [41]

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Our next question is from Vishal Shreedhar with National Bank.

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Vishal Shreedhar, National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [42]

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In the past, in prior calls, management commented on industry inflation. Just wondering what your perspective is on that? And do you think -- are you starting to see it come in or is it still no inflation?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [43]

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I think generally it stabilized. The market's pretty stable right now from that perspective.

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Vishal Shreedhar, National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [44]

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So stable at no inflation?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [45]

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Well, remember what I've said in the past is that little inflation, when we do markups, it's from $1 to $1.25, it's 25% and the lowest market is 14%. So there is inflation, but that's what we monitor, but to what level and like Neil said, it's very mild for our addressable products. And so for the time being...

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [46]

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So we're always talking from a Dollarama perspective, right, not a general market perspective. From our perspective, it's stable.

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Vishal Shreedhar, National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [47]

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Okay. And just to be clear, so the actual guidance reduction on gross margin was not reaction to the environment so much as management's seeing some initiatives work well and then -- and it's saying, you wanted to continue these initiatives more so and not passing on anticipated price increases. Did I characterize that right?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [48]

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Yes. In other words -- yes, so in other words, maybe there are items that we could've done markups that we still decided not to markup because of -- we feel that, that's the best long-term decision because we don't take decisions just based on short term. And so you're right. Or in other case, so we did less than last year. We thought we'd be doing more between -- for the second half of the year and we decided not to. So that's kind of how it's being worked up. But because we see some good momentum on the top line.

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Vishal Shreedhar, National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [49]

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Okay. And with respect to how you look at your margins, and I know you commented a little bit about this earlier. But the comment is, how should investors think about whether management is satisfied with the current level of margin? Or is that not the way to look at it? Is it more to look at are you generating the right amount of sales growth?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [50]

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Yes. I think it's always that things evolve in time and depends on inflation and how the others react. But for the time being, it's the balance between what we feel -- where we feel competitive and where we feel comfortable in terms of offering that compelling value. And that last thing, feeling for a customer that we are the best place to go in terms of -- because we offer that compelling value. And it's constantly monitoring, as we said, it's not -- this thing is done every week. And for the time being, we're comfortable at the levels that -- the ranges that we told you. And yes...

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Operator [51]

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Our next question is from Peter Sklar with BMO Capital Markets.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [52]

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Michael, in your explanation of the gross margin impact, the declining gross margin, and the fact that you took your guidance down to one of the 3 factors you mentioned was logistics. So when you're referring to logistics, are you referring to the DC expansion? Or are you referring to like broader logistics, trucking cost, things like that?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [53]

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No. Just to the DC expansion because the DC, as we said, last year, we built -- we bought land and built right beside the current DC and continued operating in the old DC, let's call it the old DC, as usual. So no disruption from that standpoint.

The difference this year, and it started at the beginning of the year is, we integrated the old and the new, so you're displacing the conveyor belts, you're setting up racking, so -- and we, obviously, capitalize as much as we could, but there's also expenses that cannot be capitalized and that will show up. The DC's expansion is expected to end this year, and on time and on budget. And so that's why I said, the bigger impact was Q1, Q2 because the sales LIBOR is lower and there's less scaling, whereas Q3, Q4 is going to be a bit lower, and therefore, the impact not as strong. But next year, in other words, those costs, you don't have any more.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [54]

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Okay. The other thing, Michael, in terms of your disclosure of Dollarcity, which will be in the next quarter's financial statements, clearly, there will be an equity income line. And I assume you'll continue to provide us with store count information. Have you decided yet, are you providing any additional information, such as comps or anything like that?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [55]

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No. And the reason -- it's not like Dollarama well established now. They're -- you have to understand that they are moving in to -- or now we're moving in to areas and negotiating whether it's occupancy costs or other. And to start disclosing returns and things like that will work against us. So we've decided to -- we'll give some details at -- you've seen in the AIF, we'll revise our AIF, but on a quarterly basis, it'll be more 50.1% of net earnings, plus we will give you the basic information we're disclosing right now. But to go into more detail, we feel will not serve us on a competitive -- from a competitive standpoint.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [56]

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Okay. And then just lastly, Neil, I have a question for you, if I may. You referred to date to the merchandising tactics that you've introduced, a couple have surfaced, you've talked about the queue, the expanded SKU count. Are there other merchandising tactics that you can point to that are helping your sales efforts?

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Neil Rossy, Dollarama Inc. - CEO, President & Director [57]

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Definitely there are. Those 2 are key changes, I guess, that would be obvious as a shopper. But the other ones are more subtle and honestly we don't disclose that level of information, but I do appreciate the question.

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Operator [58]

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Our next question is from Patricia Baker with Scotiabank.

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Patricia A. Baker, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [59]

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Three questions here. First of all, Michael, I just want a simple clarification. I know it's been discussed quite a few times in this call, the topic of markups. You said that you're going to maintain -- that you've maintained the course, which to me would imply that you would've had the same level of markups this year as last year. But in the answer to a few questions you mentioned that there would've been fewer markups. Is that correct? There's fewer...

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [60]

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Yes. There are fewer than last year. You're right, there's fewer than last year, yes.

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Patricia A. Baker, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [61]

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Okay. That's helpful. And then secondly, can you talk a little bit about what you experienced in the seasonal category in Q2?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [62]

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Yes. Well, I alluded a bit to it. Yes, summer was weaker than we would have hoped for.

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Patricia A. Baker, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [63]

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Okay. You would've seen a bit of a softness there?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [64]

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Yes.

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Patricia A. Baker, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [65]

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Okay. And then thirdly this actually relates to what Peter was just asking of Neil, so it's interesting that you're working very hard to stimulate both traffic and units. Seems -- certainly seems to be working. And I'm not asking for what you're doing or what the tactics are, I'm just curious are there specific tactics that are being deployed to traffic and other ones to units or is it all of the -- all of what you're doing is directed at both?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [66]

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Excellent question. I would say...

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Patricia A. Baker, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [67]

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Because I'm curious about the traffic piece, mostly.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [68]

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Right. Right. Right. I would say that we have tactics to try to stimulate both. Sometimes they are the same tactics and it stimulates both simultaneously, and another time some of our tactics stimulate one or the other. So I would answer the question by saying all of the above.

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Operator [69]

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Our next question is from Brian Morrison with TD Securities.

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Brian Morrison, TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst [70]

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Just in terms of price inflation around your overall impact on your business. I'm wondering if you can share your view on Tiger's expansion and material expansion of Party City. Could it be positive based on how you're positioned with Walmart sort of thing, where you get positive results, like how you're positioned with Walmart? Do you view it as negative or would you view it as neutral to your business?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [71]

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Good question. I mean it's how do you say -- with Party City, we haven't seen anything to date anyways. I'd say more neutral. And we're more managing for us with our model than really other than when we price our items but it's too early to say if there is any impact from that. But anyways, right now, I'd say it's neutral.

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Brian Morrison, TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst [72]

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Do you feel like it could have an impact upon the price inflation environment or no?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [73]

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Well, I don't think it -- no, not at this stage. I don't think so.

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Brian Morrison, TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst [74]

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Okay. Michael, just a housekeeping question. When I look at your EBITDA margin, I'm wondering if that will include or exclude the equity pickup of Dollarcity.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [75]

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In includes the equity pickup of Dollarcity, and that's a good point. In other words, it will be in the part of the EBITDA.

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Operator [76]

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Our next question is from Derek Dley with Canaccord Genuity.

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Luke Hannan, Canaccord Genuity Corp., Research Division - Associate [77]

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This is Luke stepping in for Derek here. First question I had is on capital allocation. You mentioned that there's going to be roughly a USD 50 million payment to complete the purchase price for Dollarcity. I'm just curious how that affects how you think about approaching the buyback through the rest of the year?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [78]

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Yes. So well, first of all that -- okay. We made an initial payment from our closing on August 14, USD 40 million or CAD 53-ish million. The remainder is payable only in the third quarter of next year because once we get the final price and that will depend on the EBITDA of the results related from June this year to June next year. So we'll audit that next year and determine the final price and pay it then. And it's all going to be be within the leverage, our comfort zone leverage ratio, which is approximately 2.75x adjusted debt to EBITDAR. So in other words, it will reduce the share buyback we'll be doing. But that would be next year, not this year.

And this year by the way, the initial payment, it's the same logic, so it's within our CapEx leverage of 2.75x-ish.

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Luke Hannan, Canaccord Genuity Corp., Research Division - Associate [79]

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Okay. And then switching gears. I know it was discussed a little bit before in an earlier question but you had mentioned part of the SG&A deleveraging from last year. Part of that was just facing a bit of a tougher comp, there wasn't as much SG&A spend last year. What was the remainder of that deleveraging?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [80]

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I'm sorry, the remainder deleveraging of the G&A?

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Luke Hannan, Canaccord Genuity Corp., Research Division - Associate [81]

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Yes. The SG&A.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [82]

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Yes. Well, without going into any detail, I was saying is that this year the slight increase, we did have some productivity initiatives that worked well for us this year, okay? So that definitely offset some of the timing differences, in other words, that we had year-over-year, okay? Is that right?

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Luke Hannan, Canaccord Genuity Corp., Research Division - Associate [83]

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Yes.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [84]

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Okay. Cool.

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Operator [85]

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Our next question is from Keith Howlett with Desjardins Securities.

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Keith Howlett, Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst [86]

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Yes, I had some questions on the gross margin and the units per basket. The sales of items price greater $1.25 was record level of 72%, which seems counterintuitive if you're driving units through the queue line and those smaller, lower-priced items in the queue line. I'm wondering if you can, sort of, box how that all fits together?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [87]

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Yes. Without disclosing any details or nuancing between the price points is that, like we said, what's impacting all this, one, there is the fact that we stimulated more consumable items, so as you know some in the queue line would be lower price point items and -- but as I said earlier, the unit, the building unit is not just there. There are some in other categories also. So just to highlight the fact that it's not just -- it's not just chocolate bars here. So -- and the consolidation of that shows an increase year-over-year of our penetration of $1.25 price point.

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Keith Howlett, Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst [88]

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And then just in terms of the additional SKUs, are these deal purchases given, I don't know, suppliers having excess inventory or are these permanent SKUs or are they somewhere in between?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [89]

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No. There are -- all year, they are, like I said, in all categories. And it's not like we've zeroed in specifically on an item, it's -- or a group. It touches everything.

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Keith Howlett, Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst [90]

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So is the 4,000 SKUs and the 700 seasonal, the next time you disclose that in your annual documents, is -- are those numbers going to change? Is that...

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [91]

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Yes. Yes, that would be higher. Yes.

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Keith Howlett, Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst [92]

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Yes. Right. But at the moment, we're not going to say how much higher? Is that...

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [93]

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No. Exactly.

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Keith Howlett, Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst [94]

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Great. And then just on the stores that you've opened in the last, sort of, 6 quarters during this period of low inflation and difficult retail environment, are you seeing anything different in the numbers generated by those new store openings?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [95]

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I'm sorry, you're saying in the new store openings in terms of sales that ramp up and payback and all that, economics?

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Keith Howlett, Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst [96]

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Yes, in the last 6 quarters.

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [97]

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No. It's -- well, 6 quarters, no. So I'd say F '19 cohort, what we're saying is similar for those that have completed a year, for example, are tracking the same way that the prior year cohorts were doing. So we have no reason to believe that -- and we are always looking at a 2-year payback, average store. So we're well into that. We have absolutely no worries about that.

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Keith Howlett, Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst [98]

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And then just one last question on the Dollarcity. Will you now no longer show the sales to Dollarcity in your revenues?

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [99]

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So the -- so we disclosed in the AIF more information including sales on Dollarcity, so -- but that would be done in the AIF. On the quarterly basis, we will not disclose sales information or margin information, just store count information. And obviously, net earnings information.

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Keith Howlett, Desjardins Securities Inc., Research Division - VP, Consumer Products & Merchandising Analyst and Retail Analyst [100]

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And I was thinking of your revenues include about 1% from Dollarcity, will that disappear once you're the majority owner or...

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Michael Ross, Dollarama Inc. - CFO [101]

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No. Well, no, because it continues to be accounted through Dollarama, which is a separate entity. So -- but what we're seeing is normal is that as we grow the store base, there's more and more direct sourcing and less purchases done through our logistic systems. And the only revenues that are recorded in our books are those that go through our logistics system. So as that amount decreases and becomes nonmaterial, we will stop disclosing it, and so you -- we won't have to disclose it for that reason.

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Operator [102]

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There are no further questions registered at this time. This concludes today's conference call. Please disconnect your lines at this time, and we thank you for your participation.