Growth slows from pcp.

Woolworths Holdings, parent company of David Jones, reported a sales increase of 6.7%, despite difficult trading conditions in South Africa and Australia, during the six months to December 25, 2016. Sales for David Jones grew by 4% in comparison to 11.2% in the previous corresponding period, due to the timing of Boxing Day and prior period termination of the Dick Smith concession stands.

Comparable sales for the department store, excluding new store openings, rose 0.5% while profit before tax increased 2.9% to $105 million. Gross profit margin up 0.8% and operating margin maintained at 8.5%.

Woolworths Holdings CEO, Ian Moir said political uncertainty, low growth in disposable income, high inflation and a softening labour market had made 2016 a tough year.

There will be new merchandise, planning and finance systems to go live in Q4 FY2017 and a new head of digital has been appointed, with a website re-platform to be launched in Q1 FY2018. Other key initiatives include the refurbishment of Elizabeth Street and the relocation of its head office in Melbourne, which is on track for completion in 2018.

Woolworths Holdings expects growth for the group in the second half to be in line with the growth in the first half.