David Jones scores solid Webstore result in latest financials

Aussie retailer flags increase in online sales and new payment capabilities for its customer loyalty club members, even as executive woes continue

David Jones has highlighted solid online and store sales growth in its latest financial results and announced new Webstore payment capabilities for its loyalty customers.

The positive news comes during an otherwise tumultuous time for the retailer operationally, which has included share-trading controversy, the departure of its board leaders, the resignation of its CEO and news of a failed merger with Myer.

The ASX-listed Australian retail giant reported total sales revenue for the first half of its financial year of $1.04 billion, up 3.6 per cent year-on-year, while like-for-like sales were worth $1.01bn and up 1.1 per cent over the same period.

The growth was thanks to a strong second quarter, the company stated. David Jones reported total sales $618.1 million in Q2, a jump of 4.7 per cent year-on-year. Like-for-like total sales revenue for Q2 reached $602.2 million, and was also 2 per cent higher on the same quarter last year.

David Jones’ new webstore, which was cycled for the first time in Q2, delivered 150 per cent online sales growth. The company attributed this rise to increased functionality across the site including click and collect and online gift registry capabilities.

It also pointed out the webstore operated robustly and uninterrupted throughout the higher traffic Christmas and clearance periods.

The webstore, which launched in November 2012, represents a significant investment by David Jones into its omni-channel strategy. Last August, the group added several features including click and collect, drop ship capability from suppliers, gift registry, shoppable videos, customer ratings and recommendations, and product zoom.

Two days ago, the company launched its new ‘Shop with Points’ program giving customers with David Jones-branded American Express cards and who belong to its members rewards club the ability to pay online with their points. Customers have the option of paying with points in full or using a ‘points plus pay’ option on any merchandise online.

In its annual financial statement to 27 July 2013, David Jones reported 390,000 active American Express card users, a 4.2 per cent rise year-on-year.

The steady online and customer loyalty growth comes at an otherwise tumultuous time for the retailer. Just days ago, David Jones announced a shake-up of its board, including the resignation of chairman, Peter Mason, as well as non-executive directors Steve Vamos and Leigh Clapham.

The move was widely regarded as bowing to pressure from disgruntled shareholders following an unsuccessful merger bid from Myer and controversy surrounding allegedly inappropriate share trading. Vamos has resigned immediately; Mason and Clapham are expected to stay on for three months.

David Jones also confirmed Jane Harvey as deputy chairman, who will now oversee the appointment of three new non-executive directors.

In October, David Jones CEO, Paul Zahra, also announced his intention to leave the retailer once a successor was found.

And in January, David Jones merged its customer innovations team with marketing and financial services under existing group executive of customer innovation and growth, David Robinson. The news came following the departure of marketing and financial services chief, Sacha Laing, after 18 months.

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