By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Narta member David Jones has posted a nine per cent increase in first quarter sales to $471.9 million and says it is well-placed to be the leading gift destination this Christmas.

On a like for like basis, trading was 6.7 per cent up on the same quarter a year ago (29 July to 27 October). David Jones opened two new stores during the period at Burwood (NSW) and Chermside (QLD) but closed Bankstown and Eastgardens in NSW.

David Jones CEO Mark McInnes said it was a strong result with all categories performing well, although no specific mention was made of appliances and electrical goods.

“From a geographic perspective, all states traded well, with Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria delivering strong sales growth and New South Wales continuing its good performance,” said McInnes.

McInnes said the retailer was delighted with the result but aware that the business-end of the year is still ahead, with Christmas and the clearance period ‘all-important’ on the retail calendar.

“We are well prepared to continue the David Jones tradition as the leading gift giving destination for the important Christmas trading period and for the subsequent clearance period in 2Q08,” he said.

“In addition, we are well positioned to capitalize on the expected strong consumer sentiment throughout calendar 2008.”

David Jones expects its flagship QueensPlaza store in the Brisbane CBD, scheduled to open in February, will assist it in lifting its performance again.

No hint of concern over yesterday’s rate rise was evident in McInnes’ comments.

However, the company said it would not speculate on its half year sales result until after Christmas.

The company reaffirmed its former prediction of eight to 13 per cent profit after tax (PAT) growth for the full 2008 financial year.