DJs upbeat despite another sales retreat

DAVID JONES has recorded its seventh consecutive quarter of retreating sales as shoppers remain reluctant to spend on designer clothing, accessories and make-up, but the upmarket retailer is trying to remain upbeat and is aiming for a return to positive sales this quarter.

DAVID JONES has recorded its seventh consecutive quarter of retreating sales as shoppers remain reluctant to spend on designer clothing, accessories and make-up, but the upmarket retailer is trying to remain upbeat and is aiming for a return to positive sales this quarter.

The chief executive, Paul Zahra, also reaffirmed profit guidance of a 35 per cent to 40 per cent decline in earnings for the 2012 financial year.

The fashion retailer said total sales for the fourth quarter were down 1.3 per cent to $455.8 million with like-for-like store sales also down 1.3 per cent for the period. Second-half sales were 2.2 per cent weaker on a comparable store basis while for the full 2011-12 financial year total sales were down 4.6 per cent and comparable sales 4.3 per cent down.

Presenting the results, Mr Zahra said the business had detected improving sales month to month during the fourth quarter, with David Jones aiming for positive sales in the first quarter of 2012-13.

"That's our aim, it would be great to be in that position of course, we are fully focused as a team to get back to positive growth," Mr Zahra said. The last time David Jones posted positive quarterly sales growth was in the first quarter of financial year 2010-11.

"Whilst the trading environment remains challenging, we have a strong business model, a clear business strategy, a strong balance sheet, good cashflows, ownership of our flagship Sydney and Melbourne CBD stores and the best national and international brand portfolio in Australia," Mr Zahra said.

Mr Zahra said the best-performing categories in the fourth quarter, which included the company's mid-year sale, were womenswear, beauty, menswear, shoes and accessories.

David Jones chose to cut its winter clearance sale by two weeks to six weeks, as it focused on new season inventory and lessened its use of discounting and promotions.

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