By Aimee Chanthadvong

Myer’s execution of its five point plan has helped lift first quarter sales for the 2014 financial year to $691.1 million, up 0.44 per cent compared to last year.

In the same period, on comparable store sales basis, sales were up 0.41 per cent compared to last year.

Myer chief executive officer Bernie Brookes described the first quarter results as “solid” particularly given the significant impact on sales caused by the refurbishment of three of its top 20 stores — Adelaide City (South Australia), Indooroopilly (Queensland) and Miranda (New South Wales) — which are due to be completed in 2014.

“We expect trading conditions to remain competitive and so we will remain cautious but we are confident and quite pleased with our progress so far as we head into our Christmas and Stocktake sales period,” he said.

Cosmetics, youth, womenswear and menswear were the strongest performing categories during the quarter, reflecting similar results announced last quarter.

According to Brookes, this was mainly driven by good sales growth experienced by its Myer Exclusive brands, such as Piper, Trent Nathan, Australian House & Garden, Chloe & Lola, Bauhaus and Blaq.

To ensure the company reaps the benefits of these better key high-margin categories, Brookes said the company is on track in its “space optimisation” project of reorganising floor space and redesigning floor plans to maximise space for these categories while reducing space for its underperforming categories, such as movies and DVD. The company completed the project in four stores with another four expected to be finished by March 2014.

“For the first time in seven years we’ve seen an increase in sales per square metre,” Brookes said.

“This is a reflection of using better space, giving space back to landlords and getting better productivity improvements,” Brookes said.

Meanwhile, online sales have more than doubled with homewares and cosmetics being the two standout categories sold online.

There are plans to increase online SKUs from 90,000 to 100,000 by Christmas and eventually to 190,000 SKUs with Brookes boasting its newly opened online fulfilment distribution centre in Victoria will be able to help deliver efficiency for its online demands.

“Our online fulfilment distribution centre, which has been built to distribute our 15,000 best-selling online SKUs, opened in October, significantly transforming our online fulfilment capability and will underpin the online store’s ability to meet projected volumes during the upcoming peak trading period,” he said.

Brookes said that whilst trading conditions are expected to remain competitive throughout FY2014 he is confident in the strength of company.

“We are ready to deliver a wonderful Christmas experience across all channels with a great merchandise offering, an exciting new advertising campaign, vibrant and festive stores and a team that loves to celebrate the season with our customers,” he said.