JB Hi-Fi’s profit and comparable sales dropped slightly in the first half of FY15, however the retailer is predicting a stronger second half performance.

For the half ended 31 December 2014, JB Hi-Fi’s net profit after tax (NPAT) was $88.5 million, down 1.9 per cent from $90.3 million in HY14.

Total sales were up 1.3 per cent to $1.97 billion compared to 1.94 billion during the same period the year before, however like-for-like sales were down 0.7 per cent.

“This was a pleasing result for the half year given the combined headwinds of challenging first quarter sales result and the cycling of both digital switch over in visual and the launch of new gaming consoles in the second quarter of the financial year,” said JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Murray.

“We executed the key Christmas trading period well, maintaining our price leadership and keeping costs well controlled while investing for future growth in Home, Commercial and Online.”

The company is continuing to eye a bigger slice of the $4.8 billion home appliance market, noting that it is larger than any category the company operates in and emphasising its desire to be a destination retailer for smart home products.

“As our suppliers direct their investment towards enabling the connected home, JB is positioning its model to be the consumer’s destination for this next technological evolution. As such, we continue to believe that our expansion into appliances is a critical enabler to our success in the connected home,” Murray said.

The company had 39 JB Hi-Fi Home stores as of 31 December 2014, with three new stores opened and 14 existing JB Hi-Fi stores converted into Home stores during the half. In the next six months the company plans to open two new Home stores and convert another 11 JB Hi-Fi stores into the Home format, taking the total of JB Home stores to 52. The company said it sees the potential for 75 JB Hi-Fi Home stores across Australia and New Zealand by the end of FY16.

Online sales were up 13.5 per cent in HY15 and represent approximately 2.5 per cent of total sales, up from 2.2 per cent of total sales in the corresponding period in FY14.

On the back of January 2015 sales figures — total consolidated sales growth for January 2015 YTD was 2.2 per cent and comparable sales growth was 0.2 per cent — Murray was optimistic about the year ahead.

“January sales and operation earnings are ahead of the same period last year and year to date comparable sales growth is now positive. This gives us confidence on our momentum for the second half,” he said.

The company forecast total sales of circa $3.6 billion for the full financial year and a NPAT between $127 to $131 million.