By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: David Jones has filed yet another record first half result, with a 25.2 per cent rise in Net Profit After Tax to $89 million, up from $71.1 million last year.

The company also recorded a very small increase in its gross profit margin to 39.8 per cent (up from 39.5 per cent in H107) and reduced cost of doing business results by 110 basis points to 29.4 per cent.

The results come after a strong Christmas season, but do not include the recent impact of interest rate rises that have slowed down the Australian economy. However, David Jones chief executive Mark McInnes said the company was “well positioned” to deal with the changing economy.

“Our business is in good shape and our future is bright. We have utilised the strong economic climate over the past 18 months to put in place measures to ensure we are well prepared to address the expected slowdown in consumer spending in 2H08 and beyond,” McInnes said.

“To date in 2H08, we are trading at the top end of our 1-2 per cent like for like (LFL) sales growth guidance and are cycling high growth in 2H06 and 2H07. However, as we stated in our FY09-12 strategy presentation, we expect LFL sales in FY09 and FY10 to be 0-1 per cent per annum, with two to three consecutive quarters of flat to negative LFL growth. We will update the market on our 3Q08 sales performance and update our view on Access Economics’ forecast in May 2008.”

David Jones also opened their new QueensPlaza store in the Brisbane CBD in February and reported an “outstanding” customer response. The company’s Westfield Doncaster store in Victoria is still on track to open in October this year, he said, as part of a $500 million redevelopment of the shopping centre.