DJs directors snapped up shares ahead of sales results

Two David Jones directors, Steve Vamos and Leigh Clapham, bought shares in the company two days before the public release of the retailer's quarterly sales numbers.

Two David Jones directors, Steve Vamos and Leigh Clapham, bought shares in the company two days before the public release of the retailer's quarterly sales numbers.

On the release of the better-than-expected first-quarter sales, the share price soared more than 6 per cent.

Mr Vamos bought his stock at $2.69 and Mr Clapham at $2.67, according to notices lodged with the Australian Securities Exchange. This compares with DJs' closing price on Tuesday of $3.08.

The company is not disputing that all directors, including Mr Vamos and Mr Clapham, had the updated sales numbers at the time of the purchase.

Chairman Peter Mason said: "Both directors obtained my prior approval to their share purchases. In my view, they did not possess price-sensitive information. Both directors acquired the shares during the company's trading window."

When Fairfax Media sought comment from the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, late on Tuesday, its spokesman Matthew Abbott said: "I cannot comment on the DJs example specifically, but more generally ASIC is always interested in any conduct which may harm, or give the perception of harming, market integrity."

The sales numbers were crucial because the market had been expecting sales could continue to decline. Instead they rose 2.1 per cent and, on a same store basis, after accounting for disruption in one store, were up 0.6 per cent.

In the previous quarter sales fell 1.3 per cent. But for the first quarter of 2013, all quarterly like-for-like sales have been negative since 2011.

The improved sales numbers released last week vindicated the strategy of chief executive Paul Zahra, who announced a few weeks ago his intention to resign.

Fairfax Media is not inferring that either director has engaged in insider trading.

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