By Aimee Chanthadavong

Despite several hurdles like a soft economic environment and price deflation in a number of categories, Wesfarmers remained at the top of its game.

In its annual report for 2013, the company reported a 6.3 per cent hike in its net profit after tax to $2.3 billion for the full year.

Company managing director Richard Goyder said the company will retain a strong focus on growth by investing in its existing businesses.

“Our online revenues are now around the $1 billion mark, just one indication of how the digital age is impacting our businesses,” he said.

“The future holds much opportunity in this area as our businesses develop and implement digital strategies to lift efficiency and enhance the value we provide to customers. As always, we will also look to make appropriate changes to our portfolio but remain patient and disciplined in doing so.”

The main driver for the company’s success is Coles, which delivered earnings growth of 13.1 per cent to $1.5 billion, building on the 16.3 per cent and 21.2 per cent earnings growth in 2012 and 2011 financial years.

“The transformation of Coles since its acquisition in 2007 progressed, with operational efficiencies continuing to fund reinvestment price,” Goyder said.

“The continuing store renewal program, space expansion and further investment in developing Coles team members also benefited the performance. The past five years has seen a sustained turnaround of the business, providing benefits for consumers, suppliers and employees and delivering a much stronger platform for future growth.”

Bunnings’ earnings increased 7.5 per cent to $904 million, with growth across all key business segments. Officeworks’ earnings also increased by 9.4 per cent to $93 million despite challenging market conditions and continued deflation in technology-related categories.

Kmart was another part of the business that delivered a very strong growth, up 28.4 per cent to $344 million, building on the previous year’s 31.4 per cent growth.

“Customers responded positively to continued improvement in range and we were able to further reinvest in lower prices on everyday items as a result of operational efficiencies and better sourcing,” Goyder said.

Target’s performance however was “disappointing and below expectations”. Earnings fell 44.3 per cent to $136 million following challenging trading conditions, increased costs and clearance activity was needed to clear high levels of excess inventory.

“Under a new leadership team, Target has embarked on a significant transformation of it business,” Goyder said.

“Earnings are expected to recover as it executes its transformation but improvement will take time.”