By Aimee Chanthadavong

David Jones’ Fashion and Beauty categories continue to be the main driver for the company, which reported a 2.1 per cent increase in total sales for the first quarter of the 2014 financial year.

In value terms this was equivalent to $424.2 million in comparison to the reported $415.6 million from the same period last year. On a like-for-like (LFL) basis sales revenue was down 0.3 per cent, however, excluding disruption impact of the Canberra store refurbishment, LFL sales for the quarter were up 0.6 per cent.

In addition its online sales increased by over 1,000 per cent in the first quarter and according to departing David Jones CEO and managing director Paul Zahra it made a “positive profit contribution” to overall trading.

While the company’s electronics category remained challenging, Zahra believes it new electronics business with Dick Smith can help stabilise it. 

“On 1 October 2013 our Electronics business was successfully transferred to Dick Smith in accordance with our Retail Brand Management Agreement (RBMA). We are working towards having the products in this category available on our webstore in time for Christmas trading,” Zahra said.

The company also continues to make ”good progress” on implementing its Future Strategic Direction Plan by securing additional exclusive merchandise partners, including the recently announced Hugo Boss, as well as Brooks Brothers on a department store exclusive basis with seven concept stores being rolled out nationally in FY14.

During the quarter the company successfully completed the roll-out of its Productivity Reports onto its Point of Sale (POS) system. This means frontline staff can access their individual sales performance and other key performance measures at a POS terminal. In addition, staff can now also access the David Jones online store at POS terminals in-store.

As the company gears up for the all-important upcoming Christmas trading period, Zahra said the company is well prepared after signing merchandise partnerships with iconic UK brands Harrods and Liberty.

“We have partnered with Harrods to offer customers the famous Harrods Christmas Hampers and we are establishing the world’s first Liberty (UK) pop-up areas in our Elizabeth Street (NSW) and Bourke Street Mall (Vic) stores,” Zahra said.

“These pop-up areas will stock gift items featuring the hugely popular signature Liberty print.”

However, the company noted that while progress is being made it expects trading to continue to be challenging through FY14.