By Grant Shepherd

JB Hi-Fi recently held its 2012 Annual General Meeting where CEO, Terry Smart, discussed the strong performance of the retailer despite challenging economic conditions.

According to Smart, JB Hi-Fi achieved record sales of $3.1 billion, however gross margins did come under pressure affecting earnings.

“Gross margin was impacted by a combination of the challenging trading environment, more aggressive and sustained levels of discounting in the market and increased shrinkage levels. Store closures by competitors such as WOW Sight & Sound, Dick Smith and Game also impacted margins as they cleared stock at low prices,” he said.

One of the key success stories for JB has been the growth of its online presence.

“The popularity of JB Hi-Fi’s website continues to grow with online sales up 77.3 per cent in FY12. Unique visitors to the website increased 41.1 per cent over the previous year to an average of 927,000 per week in FY12,” he said.

“While sales directly transacted through the online site are still relatively low at 1.6 per cent of total sales, the site remains an important an important driver of both in store and online transactions.”

Smart was optimistic about the upcoming selling period, due to some key technology releases.

“We have seen the every successful launch of the Apple iPhone 5 and the latest Microsoft operating platform Windows 8. We will also soon see the release of Apple’s iPad mini and Nintendo’s anticipated Wii U. The company sees these as important drivers of sales growth as we head into the Christmas period,” he said.