U.S. Markets closed
  • S&P 500

    3,351.60
    +53.14 (+1.61%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    11,117.53
    +203.96 (+1.87%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,511.85
    +36.94 (+2.50%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    40.57
    +0.32 (+0.80%)
     
  • Gold

    1,886.00
    +19.70 (+1.06%)
     
  • Silver

    23.82
    +0.72 (+3.13%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1675
    +0.0041 (+0.3503%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    0.6630
    +0.0040 (+0.61%)
     
  • Vix

    26.31
    -0.07 (-0.27%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.2834
    +0.0089 (+0.6994%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    10,884.67
    +105.86 (+0.98%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    224.32
    +0.40 (+0.18%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    5,927.93
    +85.26 (+1.46%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    23,511.62
    +307.00 (+1.32%)
     

Edited Transcript of EURS.OL earnings conference call or presentation 10-Jul-20 6:30am GMT

Q2 2020 Europris ASA Earnings Call

FREDRIKSTAD Aug 22, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Europris ASA earnings conference call or presentation Friday, July 10, 2020 at 6:30:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

================================================================================

Corporate Participants

================================================================================

* Espen Eldal

Europris ASA - CEO & CFO

* Trine Engløkken

Europris ASA - Business Controller

================================================================================

Conference Call Participants

================================================================================

* Eirik Rafdal

Carnegie Investment Bank AB, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Markus Borge Heiberg

Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Equity Research Analyst

* Oliver Schüler Pisani

Nordea Markets, Research Division - Analyst of Consumer Goods

================================================================================

Presentation

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. Thank you. We are back in business again. Welcome to the second quarter presentation of Europris. As I said, I'm still happy to see you. Now we have some extra time to read the materials. COVID-19, as I said, has had a major impact on the quarter, and it has not only been on top of Europris' agenda, but it has been on top of the whole society agenda for the quarter. And we are really humbled when we see the effects of the pandemic for the Europris numbers. It's still too early to conclude on the long-term effects of the COVID-19. But short-term, Europris has obviously been in a position to get positive effects into the numbers.

When we look at second quarter of 2020, sales grew by record numbers due to the high sales following COVID-19. It was 34.6% like-for-like growth. And during the quarter, we have demonstrated solid gross margin management through balancing of the campaigns and also the product offering. Gross margin increased to 43.9%, up by 1.5% points from last year.

OpEx to sales ratio was reduced to 20.5%, that's a reduction from 24.2% last year. But keep in mind that last year also included NOK 35 million in additional costs related to the high fill rate at the central warehouse. But even adjusting for that, it's a significant decrease in the OpEx to sales ratio. So it has been demonstrated good cost control in the second quarter this year. Adjusted EBITDA came in at an all-time high, NOK 517 million, up from NOK 296 million last year.

In addition to the numbers, we have successfully launched our new e-commerce platform during the quarter. And actually, I have gotten the most exciting job in Norwegian retail. So I'm really happy with that. And as we speak, my successor as CFO, is being interviewed, at least, it's a lineup of candidates. Very many applicants for the position, and we're looking forward to have a good candidate, but the position will not be filled before, after summer, because there are many interviews that should be done.

When we look at the first half of 2020, group revenue increased by 25.7% and adjusted net profit increased by 200% to NOK 255 million, up from NOK 85 million last year. I think then the numbers are solid. But what has really impressed me the most during the first half of 2020 is the way the organization has responded to the difficult challenges we've had. In my view, Europris has actually demonstrated truly operational excellence in the first half.

We got a slow start to the year. We realized early in January that actually winter is not coming this year. So we had to adjust the product offering. We had to adjust the marketing and we did that early on, and that was actually rewarded already in February with an increase in customer traffic and also increase in sales. So we regained the traffic and the sales momentum by doing positive changes to our product selection.

And then COVID-19 arrived. That actually puts the whole organization on a test. During these difficult times with COVID-19, we have had every day, 2,500 store employees going to work, facing 100,000 customers on average every day. And that has been a challenge for the organization. But our employees has done whatever they can to keep all our stores open and make sure that the customers get the goods they need in this difficult period. And I'm really proud that we have managed to do this in a safe way. They have implemented a new strict routines for health and hygiene in all our stores and make sure that the customers have a safe shopping environment.

At the same time, as the stores experienced strong growth, of course, also the back office experienced the same. And if you ask a retailer, I think everyone would say that getting 30% growth, that's almost a dream. But if you ask the logistics guys, if they would like 30% growth overnight, yes, they would like it, but they would like to plan it. And this time, they couldn't plan it.

So the way they responded and actually increased the capacity in a really short time to handle this kind of growth, and how the buyers of the company turned around and make sure that we got the products we needed because we didn't plan for this kind of growth. We planned for a normal season and we had to make a lot of adjustments. So the operational excellence that has been demonstrated in this quarter, in my view, that has been tremendous. And I'm really impressed by the way the organization has handled it. And I would like to thank all my employees for doing a lot of hard work over these last couple of months. So that's truly what happened in the first half.

COVID-19, as I said, was on top of the agenda in the first -- I mean in the second quarter, and it really is also when we enter the second half of 2020. Europris has done a lot of hard work to adhere at every time to the folkehelseinstitutt's guidelines for safe trade. And all the infection control measures we have taken in these stores and the organization are now being implemented as part of the concept. Now we are preparing that this will take some time and we are also preparing that we should facilitate a safe shopping environment for our customers over time. So this is now being integrated as part of the normal concept.

The impact on sales. We will come a little bit back but obviously it has been positive until now. On the currency side, we've seen large variations in the currency. It's been volatile over the last half year. In our profits, you see that we had negative impact at year-end, a positive impact at the end of the first quarter and now it's negative in the second quarter. But first half year is more or less neutral when it comes to currency. But we continue to do our hedging and we will remain on that path.

Looking at sales. Total retail sales was grown by 34 -- 35.4% in the second quarter. It was 33.5% adjusted for 1 additional sales day in June. The sales growth is relatively evenly distributed over the quarter, with a slight overweight in May. All categories of Europris demonstrate sales growth and also strong growth. The seasonally important category, Home and Garden, increased by 44.6%, driven by good weather and Norwegians preparing for a summer holiday at home. The sales growth in the quarter has been relatively evenly distributed between customers and an increase in the basket. And the basket increase is mainly driven by an increase in the number of items per customer.

We have seen solid sales growth across the whole country. So all geographies has grown. We've seen the strongest growth in the Southern Norway, in the Eastern Norway, close to the Swedish border, with a growth of 41.3%. This is also the area where we have seen most cases of infections in Norway. And of course, closing of the border towards Sweden has had temporarily halted the cross-border trade and had a positive effect on our stores.

The lowest growth we see is in Northern Norway. That's where we see the least cases of infections in Norway. And this is also an area where the customers are used to more planned shopping. So this is where we see the least change in consumer behavior following COVID-19. They're used to this -- do planned shoppings due to distances to the stores. So the basket has always been and will be higher in Northern Norway than it is in Southern Norway.

So it's no big change in the shopping pattern in up North but we're happy to see that in the rest of the country, from Mid-Norway down to Southern Norway, the growth has been in the range, 30% to 35% in the quarter. It's strong growth across the store base. And when you look at our like-for-like stores, that's 259 of them, 258 had positive growth in the second quarter.

And Europris continued to outperform, but what we see, a mixed and challenging retail market. We don't have market figures for the first half yet. So we have looked at the figures accumulated per May. And Europris had a growth of 22.3%, while total retail grew in this period by 5.5% but we see it's mixed results. And we've also seen during the quarter that the figures are changing month-by-month. I think April was low for many retailers, but the recovery started in June, now in May and has really followed up in June.

So we see stronger numbers in Norwegian retail, but there are differences. I think textiles are still struggling, they're recovering, but from really low numbers. While, of course, the state monopoly, they're doing great and pharmacies, hardware stores, duty self stores are doing well. But every -- the consumption in Norway has been good actually, but it's very really mixed.

Shopping centers more hit by the COVID-19 than other stores. Suburban stores like ours have thrived in this period and variety retail in general, has thrived during the second quarter and done a really good job and increasing sales by 13.6%. And even in that positive segment, Europris continued to outperform the market and take new market shares by growing far more than the variety retail in the market.

We've analyzed the shopping frequency and the customers we've seen in our stores over the first half year. And the total Europris chain grew by 25.5% in the first half, and the customer transactions were up by 10.7% to 16.7 million customer visits. We have analyzed these customer visits and see that the 10.7% growth in customer transactions, 3/4 of that is due to increased frequency by existing customers and 1/4 is due to unique new customers in our stores. Most customers still pay by card, and that has increased during COVID-19. The cash card, cash sales in percent of total sales has been reduced. And assuming a slightly higher frequency for cash customers, we see that we had around 2.7 million unique customers in our stores in the first half.

Turning to gross margin. The gross margin, as I said, was 43.9%, an increase from 42.4% last year. We have increased margins that reflects balancing of the campaigns and the product offering. And by balancing campaigns, what we mean is that we plan for a season that we should have -- use seasonal products and also campaign products to attract traffic. But in this special period, we've seen that we get sold out of some campaign products or seasonal products before they actually plan to be on campaign. That means you have to rebalance and put all the products on campaigns. Because for us, it's very important that the customers that comes to our stores, even if they come in late in the campaign period, they should get their goods. They should get the offer they came for.

So we don't put products on campaign unless we have enough supply for all the stores. So we should supply the expected demand. So we had to make a lot of adjustment. That means basically, we sold some more products before the campaigns, we sold it at full price, before the campaign was up.

The gross profit was up by 41.2% to NOK 971 million. On the operating expenses, it totaled to NOK 454 million or 20.5% of sales compared to 24.2% last year. As I said, we had some additional logistics costs last year at NOK 35 million. This year, the cost increase is basically related to the handling of goods. With more than 30% growth, you need to handle the goods as well. So it's at the logistics center, the packing and picking of goods has increased some costs in addition to transportation to the stores.

On top of that, our store managers, they are incentivized by sales and margins, and of course, we have increased the provisions for performance-based salaries for those employees. In sum, this leads to the adjusted EBITDA that came in at NOK 517 million, up from NOK 296 million last year. And the EBITDA, of course, is impacted by the high sales growth, but also the strong gross margin management and the good cost control that we have demonstrated in the quarter.

On the cash flow, we have a positive development in the net working capital. That is also influenced by the high sales growth. And also, we see that inventory was too high last year, and this has now been reduced by NOK 125 million to the end of the first half this year. So we have a more healthy inventory situation at the central warehouse this year than what we had last year. Cash and liquidity reserves at the end of the quarter was NOK 1.3 billion, significant up from last year.

The strategy of Europris remains unchanged. We have 3 key focus areas, and that is to strengthen the price and cost position; it's to improve the customer experience; and it is to drive customer growth. Looking at the progress we made in this quarter, we start with the price and cost position. And still, the new warehouse remains our key issue in this strategy direction. In this quarter, we have actually exited now 3 old warehouses in Fredrikstad. So now we operate out of the new Central Warehouse in Moss and the old Central Warehouse in Fredrikstad. So basically, we've gone from 5 locations to 2. So we are on our path going from 5 to 1. So now it's only 1 to go, and all the warehouse in Fredrikstad will be exited in the first half of 2021.

But the real test in this quarter has been the scale-up of the high-bay warehouse that we started operations in February. And due to the high-volume we've experienced in the quarter, we have actually, for some periods in the often unloading of the system of the high-bay warehouse, actually been touching the capacity limits with our 2-shift regime that we operate today in this quarter, and that has actually worked quite fine.

So it's a solid system, worked without any problems in this quarter. And obviously it has increased our capacity. And also contributed that we could deliver this quarter at the cost rate we have done. So the new capacity has helped us to be more cost-efficient in this quarter as well.

Looking ahead, we will start testing of the automation in the low-bay area now in the third quarter. That was slightly delayed due to COVID-19, but the foreign workers are now back in Norway. They have been quarantined, are ready to work again. So we're starting the testing now during summer. And we will move -- start operations in the first half of 2021. When that stage is completed, we will have all operations out of a single, highly automated warehouse in Moss. And we expect savings after the transitional period we're in, that will last until we move out of the old warehouse in 2022 or the lease expires.

The second part in improving cost position is about ÖoB and the sourcing partnership we have with Tokmanni and now also ÖoB in Sweden. We acquired 20% of ÖoB, completed that in December last year, and we have an option to require the remaining 80%. That option period starts when we have agreed on the 2019 accounts of Runsven. They sent -- they have been delayed with issuing their accounts for 2019 due to a change of CFO and also the change of focus in the organization due to COVID-19. So they operationally were hit and they needed to focus management resources on handling the operations.

But they finalized their accounts and had their general assembly on the 30th of June. And I expect to receive the best financials, with supporting due diligence information during the third quarter. And then we will start doing the due diligence on the financial numbers. And after that, we have completed that, then we have a 6-month option period. That means that option period will not expire until into Q1 2021 at the earliest.

Looking at the sales performance of ÖoB that has been strong in the first half with a growth of 8.8%. ÖoB has basically seen more or less the same effects of COVID-19 as us, a mixed effects on the store base, growing sales. Of course, for them, negative on the border shops towards Norway, but they've lost traffic and they actually closed 2 stores temporary due to the loss in traffic. Otherwise, it's more or less the same effect as [you seen] but at a slight lower rate. EBITDA in ÖoB for the first half was SEK 13.9 million compared to SEK 10.7 million in the first half of 2019.

When we look at the next strategy element. It's about improving the customer experience and a key asset in this is to develop the concept and the categories. As the second quarter -- as the fourth quarter is seasonally important to us, we don't do any major changes during this quarter, but I would like to talk something about what I think is the key asset of Europris. And that is the flexible concept. So over time, we have developed a concept that is truly flexible and also operational-adaptable. And during this quarter, we have really seen that this comes into handy.

As I said, we didn't plan for 30% growth. So you need to have a flexible organization, and you need to be able to adapt to these kind of unforeseen changes and our buyers did that. Starting off early, even with the Tokmanni, Europris sourcing office in Shanghai, making sure that we got all the goods we needed for the summer season. There, they had their contingency plans up early, making sure that we actually got everything we have ordered.

But our buyers also in Norway really had to adapt. They had to change the marketing, they had to change the focus we had on the campaigns. We had to make a lot of changes in the stores to facilitate new regulations. Just on the product offering, seasonal product promotions were adjusted. We had to find replacement for sold-out products wherever that was possible and we put a significant focus already back in March. We saw that, if this continues as we see it, we will be sold out.

So what do we do? So we started looking for stock lots to ensure good bargains for the customers and also have traffic drivers for the summer season. And this materialized in tax-free days at Europris. And I think that's a brilliant idea. Norwegians like to travel during summer, but our buyers, they realized this year, they can't travel. So we did job for them. From the office in Fredrikstad, they search the whole Europe for stock lots of attractive offers, from less [worth] retailers. And we made tax for shopping available for all Norwegians through our 265 stores in Norway.

I think doing that with a sense of humor, that's something you need in the retail organization. And also, I think this kind of flexibility that we have demonstrated in this quarter is quite important. And I think if it's one key takeaway you should have from this presentation, maybe except from the record profits and sales, that should not be COVID-19, but it should be the way that the Europris organization responded to the challenge. Because the way our employees actually turn it -- make a turn, change the product offering, this is truly in the DNA of Europris. We are doing campaigns every week. Every week is a new campaign. And that is actually 30 -- close to 30% of our total sales. We are used to quick changes. And we are changing from season-to-season.

This quarter, we actually have multiple seasons. We had Easter and start of Spring/Summer in the same week. So we are used to doing this kind of quick shifts. We have a large and variety in the assortment, which means that we can shift the focus between the product groups. And I think the uniqueness about Europris is not just the product but the combination of how we do it is the uniqueness of Europris. And I think in honestly, you can copy the products, you can copy the prices, you can copy the promotions, but what you can't copy, that's the people and the culture.

So the way we do it and the way we have put this into system is really a competitive advantage for Europris. And it shows also that we have some resilience in difficulty at times when it comes unforeseen market changes like we see now. So that should be one of the key takeaways at least from the presentation today.

On driving customer growth. The new e-commerce platform has been long overdue, and we're really happy to see it launched. It facilitates a much simpler and more flexible shopping solution. And we have also expanded the e-commerce offering significantly. So the picking is now done at the central warehouse, which basically means that all articles we have at the central warehouse is something you can buy online. So it's a much bigger, call it, selection of products.

And for us, it's -- I'm not that concerned that we should do this kind of amount of total chain sales online. But what I would like to do is make sure that the customers have the possibility to shop in the way they like. For us, it's about conversion, whether if it's the physical stores or online, that doesn't really matter, but we want to make shopping easy and convenient for the customers. So with Europris today, you can do click & collect in 2 hours for selected items in all our stores. You can do click & collect on all products from the central warehouse and get it delivered to your local Europris store, free of charge. We give you home deliveries, then we charge for the transportation or you can get it in any of our 264 physical stores.

The results has been positive. E-commerce sales grew by 99% in the second quarter and accounted for 2.1% of chain sales. Home deliveries that grew by 167% and click & collect grew by 87%. Click & collect now accounts for 80% of total e-commerce sales. That's quite stable compared to what we saw last year.

But not only e-commerce is important to drive customer traffic. With digitalization, we get better and more access to data. And Europris has, over time, developed e-CRM systems and also now scaling up capacity to do better analysis and take commercial decisions based on this new data. This is just an example of what we've done because we saw that there were some significant differences between the stores during COVID-19. So we started analyzing what happened to our customers at the Strømmen store. And we saw -- we looked at 21,000 unique bank cards used in Strømmen and other chain stores before and after COVID-19.

And we saw that the customers, they remained loyal. They just shopped less out of Strømmen. They moved their shopping to other stores. And like any other customer, they increased the basket and they increased the frequency of visits to Europris. But I think going forward, we have now more than 0.5 million members in our customer club, MER. We are collecting more data than ever before. And this will be an edge for us. We are scaling up the capacity to do -- analyze this and to make commercial decisions based on these kinds of data. So our decisions in marketing and also decisions will be more commercially driven and data-driven in the future.

It's also about opening new stores and developing the store state. And as planned, we didn't open any stores in the second quarter. We actually closed the store at Haugenstua in Oslo that has been a loss-making store for some years, been in our tail of unprofitable stores. And we got an offer to exit the [contract], and we did that. We have 6 stores in the pipeline for 2020 and beyond, including a new city concept store in Oslo.

That is if everything goes as planned, due to be opened in the fourth quarter. It's a little bit different city store than the one you've seen at Gunerius. It's located on [Lurn]. So a little bit different location, more residential, but in an area with a lot of population and also co-located with the grocery store that has high sales. We're really looking forward to see a new concept store in Oslo.

And we continue to do negotiations with landlords. We are -- we have a good pipeline of negotiations going on for good locations. And we believe that post COVID-19, Europris is in a good position to negotiate with landowners because we have a winning retail concept. So I think we're in a good position and landlord should actually look for Europris because we are one of those that can attract customers to a shopping area.

Summarizing and looking on the outlook. Like I started off saying, it's too early to draw any conclusions about the long-term effect of COVID-19 and the current situation. But as I said, the flexibility in the concept and the organization's ability to quickly adapt to market changes, that gives Europris the resilience and also a competitive advantage to handle unforeseen market changes.

And the long-term financial outlook for our Europris remains unchanged. We should continue to outperform the market over time. And to deliver profitable growth, driven by the actions we do on the new center warehouse, and we should also continue to pay out dividend to our shareholders.

================================================================================

Questions and Answers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With that, I think we open up for questions. We'll start with questions from the audience, and then we will take questions from the web, Trine?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Markus Borge Heiberg, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Equity Research Analyst [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Markus Heiberg from Kepler Cheuvreux. So if we look at going forward, because I think Q2 is behind, and it was an exceptional quarter. So how do you believe sales categories will develop? Do you believe in essentials doing better or discretionary categories? Because now you saw this Home & Garden category doing very well, whereas, of course, essential goods are, I would guess, doing well. But how do you see this going into Q3? That's my first question.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [3]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think it's a very good question, but difficult to answer because it depends on the depth and the length of the -- on the infection control measures. But as long as people spend more time at home, I think they will consume more in their households, both of washing detergents, personal care, food, everything, but also, they make it nice at home. So preparing for summer holiday, many people, they buy new garden furniture. They freshen up. They're doing refurbishments. So I think as long as people are spending more time at home, you will basically see more or less good growth in all categories. But it's back to the thing, you don't plan for 30%, 40% growth. So I said, at one point, you get sold out, and you need to focus a little bit differently.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Markus Borge Heiberg, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Equity Research Analyst [4]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. So do you expect some sort of market saturation that people have now bought what they need for their garden? Or do you see because you have accelerating growth in June, do you think that people are still, as you say, buying even more goods for their home? Or do you think that was kind of a spike in June?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [5]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think obviously, it was a spike. And people start to prepare for that summer holiday at home early. So I think we've got a lot of good sales in -- especially in May. It was nice weather. It was good conditions for preparing to staying at home. And also that continued into June. Normally, we see that the sales of seasonal items drops significantly in July. So they are -- people are well-prepared and planning their shopping. So I think we will see lower sales in the next couple of months. And I -- like we said in the announcement when we talked about our sales in April and June -- April and May, we think that the biggest changes are behind us, that we will gradually, like the rest of the society, move towards the normal. But we just don't know how that new normal will be in yet. That's too early to say.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Markus Borge Heiberg, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Equity Research Analyst [6]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. So my second and last question here is on the cost side, I think it's very interesting because obviously you didn't prepare for this, but you see employee costs are up 26%, I think and even higher if we adjust for the extraordinary costs last year. So it's basically a variable cost this quarter. It's one-to-one with the top line. How do you see cost develop if you had time to prepare for this? Is that a -- not a normal assumption, but that payroll cost will move something like 1:1 with the top line, if you have extraordinary growth? Or how do you see that?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [7]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When I look at the personnel cost in the quarter, you're absolutely right. It's up by more than 20%, and that is not due to -- some of it is due to the volume, but that's the small part. The large part is actually due to that we incentivized our store managers by sales growth and also margin improvements. They get from the contribution they have in their stores, they get their annual bonuses. And of course, the incentive-based pay increases this year due to what happened in this quarter. So we've taken that cost in this quarter.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Markus Borge Heiberg, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Equity Research Analyst [8]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. So you will say that the -- yes. So the cost from an increased Q2 bonus is, of course, taken now. But that would be for every quarter. If you have strong growth...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [9]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

But they have -- they don't have quarterly bonus, they have full year bonus agreement. And we see now that they will -- the full year bonus cost will increase, and that cost is taken in the second quarter.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Analyst, [10]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quite interesting to see that a quarter of the customer transactions is actually coming from new customers. So I assume that there might be some barriers in terms of complying to GDPR to know exactly who those new customers are. But is there any other way that you can identify the new customers and how to actually make sure that they become usual customers going forward?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [11]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think on the GDPR, we have a system that is absolutely 100% in compliance with the regulation. So every bank card used in our hotels, they get a unique token. But it's just the bank card that get it. We don't know who the customers are. But we know that for those customers that become part of our MER customer club. And there, we have more than 0.5 million customers. So we are starting to attract more and more data, more and more customers that we actually know who are and we can communicate with, but they have, of course, accepted that. We use this kind of data in analyzing and also in marketing.

So we don't know, but we will work extremely hard to make sure that the new customers we get actually are being served and welcome. And this is spread out to our 264 stores. So you see these stores are in local communities. And when I go to my local Europris store, they know their customers. And if they get a new customer, they actually see him and you'll recognize him. And so they actually see these new customers coming in. So it's -- you can do it on data, but face-to-face is also quite good.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Analyst, [12]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And also interesting to see that e-commerce revenue growth was actually 99%, which is quite amazing, I think. And it now accounts for about 2% of chain sales. So basically, my question is, is the platform rigged to still make sure you can see growth, e-commerce growth picking in the central warehouse and then make sure that you can actually meet that then going forward? And should we also expect that, that percentage of chain sales to increase steadily going forward? Because I think I remember, just a couple of years back, I think we were talking about the e-commerce sales being maybe 0.5%.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [13]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, it was 0.6% in 2019, the full year. And -- but this quarter, last year was 1.4%. So the second quarter with a lot of garden furniture, is the peak season for e-commerce sales. So it was whole high also last year, but the growth we've seen, we can absolutely handle that. We have the capacity to do that. And as I said, 80% is click & collect. So that is still coming through the stores, the majority of it. So it's not that much of home deliveries. That's it. Of course, it's growing, but we have a new solution. It's much better than the old one. We were expecting to see significant growth, but we'll be pleased that the customers actually like it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Analyst, [14]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And then regarding the home deliveries, which grew by 167%, are there any particular categories that stands out?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [15]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's -- you would be amazed. It's like all over. It's compared to the stores, it's less washing and cleaning, but it's a lot, home and interior decoration, it's garden furniture. Yes, a lot of things that people buy to make a nice home.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Analyst, [16]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And then regarding the new e-comm platform, you said that the assortment is wider and broader than in a typical store. Is it actually possible to buy, for example, off-season products online that you won't typically see in the store?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [17]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. It is. We don't do that at the moment. We have tested with some selected assortment only available online. Occasionally, we started with some seasonal products. And I think it's -- let's see how this works. What the customers want. But we have probability on price and products. So I think we can sell a lot more online than what we do actually in the stores. But what I would be careful with is to start the competition between the online and our own stores. So then it should be a unique assortment online that they could -- the stores could recommend for the customers in the stores, also to use. It's -- so I think it's a potential there, but we haven't explored it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eirik Rafdal, Carnegie Investment Bank AB, Research Division - Research Analyst [18]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just one question from me, Eirik from Carnegie, and it's on FX. You touched on the unfavorable FX movements now this spring. Two questions there. Have you already started to move prices up a bit? And number two, is if you could give any flavor on kind of how far you've come with the renegotiations with your Far East suppliers, for instance, for the Q4 deliveries, just a quick update on how FX has been affecting you as of today.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [19]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For us, the key -- we're in this business because we should have low prices and offer that to our customers. That's why we do the hedging, we should be focused on the price and not be stressed by some certain movements in the currency on the short-term. And we've -- I think we managed this quite well during the second quarter. We have, of course -- we are following the market every month, doing detailed plan site analysis, both in the grocery stores, but also on competitors in discount variety retail.

And we should be competitive and never compromise on that price position. And we are sure that we haven't done that. Of course, with some products, we have started to see that the market prices are increasing. So we have followed that and to make sure that we take out the price we can in the market at the same time as we remain competitive.

For the second quarter, price increases will come on seasonal assortment for -- especially for the Christmas goods, there we will see some price increases. But we will never compromise on the price position we have. And we always, we negotiate with our suppliers. This year, we have purchased Christmas items together with both ÖoB and Tokmanni, while we, in the past only purchased together with Tokmanni. We're getting an edge there. So I'm [sure] that we will maintain the competitive position and manage the currency situation like we've done before.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oliver Schüler Pisani, Nordea Markets, Research Division - Analyst of Consumer Goods [20]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oliver Pisani, Nordea. Just a quick technical question first. The -- what was the total rent of the 3 warehouses that you exited in this quarter?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [21]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That's a detailed question. I think Trine should answer later on. I don't remember the exact number.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oliver Schüler Pisani, Nordea Markets, Research Division - Analyst of Consumer Goods [22]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And I think I have another one here. Yes. Now that we are getting close to ÖoB potential transaction, could you perhaps just elaborate a bit broadly your thinking of sort of the risks versus the opportunities of that transaction now going forward?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [23]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think the key objective of the ÖoB transaction was basically to start doing sourcing together. That was the whole basis for the partnership that we should add more sourcing forces together. So we increased the total capacity of Tokmanni and Europris and ÖoB to get the lower prices. That's the key of it. And then the joint ownership is basically that -- to make it more committed from all parties. So that remains the key issue. We have the option to require the remaining 80%, and that should be done on -- if you believe that you can actually do it better, that you can make turnaround. We were hoping that they should do the turnaround before we have to make the decision.

But still, it looks promising this year, but let's wait and see. Now the option will not expire until we see in the full 2020. So that gives us some more time. So I think we should take this time, we should do a thorough, not only the financial due diligence, but also in the commercial due diligence in this period. And we have assigned partners to do that. And based on this analysis and the business plan we provide to the Board, they will make the decision, do they believe that we can do some changes and make the turnaround in ÖoB? I think there are some things you can do on the operational execution. There are some things we could share on the development of the concept and the categories. But that is being taken care of by the due diligence and then the Board will make their decision on that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oliver Schüler Pisani, Nordea Markets, Research Division - Analyst of Consumer Goods [24]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Regarding future growth in new stores, I think you mentioned that there are 6 stores planned for this year and beyond. Historically, there's been a higher number of new stores every year, about 15, I believe. You touched upon this, a new concept city store in a more residential area in Oslo now. Would you be able to comment anything about your thoughts for 2021? Are there a number of, let's say, spots or locations that you're considering? Are we talking about a single or double-digit number of stores, let's say for '21 and '22?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [25]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. We're not. I think the horizon is too short to have the double digits when you come into the close period. But it's -- we have planned another 2 for this year, that means we'll come up to 4 new stores in total in 2020. Our long-term guiding is around 5, so I think that's within the range. And we have another pipeline for 4 beyond 2020. So it's a good pipeline, and we continuously work with landowners to find good locations.

And I'm excited to see the new city store concept in Oslo, the concept itself. It will be more or less the same as at the Gunerius, the size of the store, product selection. But it might be tuned a little bit to fit more with the residential area it is in, rather than the downtown store of Gunerius. So I think we will take this. We will learn how we should tune the assortment, and that will fund the basis on how we go forward.

Looking at the pipeline we have. I honestly don't remember all the stores where the locations are, but it's not any new city stores, except for the one and the other stores are spread around the country.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oliver Schüler Pisani, Nordea Markets, Research Division - Analyst of Consumer Goods [26]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I believe that ÖoB has had the concept of city stores for some years, and there's been some changes in a number of them, but hovering around 10, I believe. But are those largely city center stores or also residential stores? Or have you -- why have you, let's say, come to the conclusion that you would like to try, let's say, a city store in a more residential area at [Lurn] now?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [27]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

They actually have both. So more residential areas and city center stores. I think this is a good location that came up. I think it's a good potential for sales in that area. We see that customers are actually not willing to travel very long to an Europris stores. They do the shopping quite locally. So I think this is a very good opportunity for us to see for a location. And it's not -- honestly, it's not that easy to find good enough locations at the prices we are willing to pay. But I think that the landowners will adjust and make sure that you will see more City Europris stores in the future.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oliver Schüler Pisani, Nordea Markets, Research Division - Analyst of Consumer Goods [28]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Do you see any particular changes in category mix of a typical, let's say, residential city store then does City Center store?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [29]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that's too early. So let's wait and see the numbers.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Trine Engløkken, Europris ASA - Business Controller [30]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A couple of questions from the web here. It's Ole Martin Westgaard, DNB. Can you please elaborate on your thinking about purchasing volumes for second half next year? When do you commit to volumes for seasonal goods?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [31]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You commit to the volumes of seasonal goods in the range 6 to 12 months before the season. So you do that on a quite long horizon. And obviously, when we plan for the seasons, we plan for a more normal growth. And we did that this year, we are planning for a more normal Christmas season as well, and we will do that also for the seasons next year.

I think everyone remembers what happens when we were too enthusiastic and increase the purchasing volumes like we did last year. So that is not the kind of situation you would like. So I think you should plan for a normal season. If you get an extraordinary volume like you've seen this year, the Europris organization has proved that it's actually flexible and have the ability to adapt to the situation. So I think we should focus on normal purchasing and do operational excellence like we've demonstrated this quarter.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Trine Engløkken, Europris ASA - Business Controller [32]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And last question from Petter Nyström, ABG. You say sales were boosted by increased consumption in private households, halted cross-border shopping and Norwegians having holiday at home. Isn't this also drivers that will support Q3 sales?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [33]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Of course, to some extent, it is, as long as the borders towards Sweden are closed, I expect to see higher sales in the stores close to the border. So I think that's quite obvious. But for how long it will last and what kind of infection control measures that will stay in force in society, that's still too early to say. But short term, I think those kind of changes will be positive for Europris. But I still believe that we've seen the peak is behind us. And as you understand, we are soon getting sold out of some summer seasonal items. So we are changing the focus, and I wouldn't be surprised if I saw another tax-free week coming soon.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Trine Engløkken, Europris ASA - Business Controller [34]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No more questions.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Espen Eldal, Europris ASA - CEO & CFO [35]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. Last time, we missed a few questions on the web because we cut the line too early. So we give it like half a minute, but they have had plenty of time until now.

Okay. Thank you very much. Have a nice summer.