David Jones has posted a half year profit after tax of $105.7 million for the six months ended 29 January, representing a 5.2 per cent lift from $100.5 million of the prior corresponding period.

CEO Paul Zahra said the company’s gross profit margin was well maintained at 39.7 per cent.

“Despite a very competitive environment in the first of 2011, with heavy promotional activity by retailers, we are pleased to report that our first half year profit after tax was up 5.2 per cent. Our gross profit margin remained within our target of 39.5 per cent to 40 per cent.”

The company’s department store business reported a 4.2 per cent increase in earnings before interest and tax from $125.6 million in the first half of 2010 to $130.9 million in the first half of 2011.

However, David Jones saw sales for the company fall 0.2 per cent from $1,086.1 million in the first half of 2010 to $1.083.1 in the first half of this year, impacted by fragile consumer sentiment.

This is by far better than its arch rival Myer, which reported earlier in the month a 3.5 per cent drop in sales.

The company’s outlook has been marked by deteriorating consumer sentiment, which as been negatively influenced by adverse weather and significant events such as floods in Queensland and Victoria, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and unrest in Libya.

“Subject to further deterioration in consumer sentiment and no further adverse changes in the macro economic environment, we affirm our 5 to 10 per cent profit after tax growth guidance for the second half of 2001 and the financial year of 2012, noting however that if consumer shopping behaviour continues as per second quarter of 2011 we expect our profit after tax growth will be at the lower end of our guidance,” Zahra said.