By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: Woolworths Limited, parent company of the consumer electronics retailer Dick Smith, announced its fourth quarter sales results yesterday, reporting a 2.1 per cent increase in its CE sales in Australia.

“This result has been achieved in a very challenging year for retail which saw continuing deflationary effects, the disruption caused by natural disasters, increased consumer caution and higher domestic saving rates,” Woolworths Limited CEO Michael Luscombe said. “This outcome reflects our ability to adapt and perform in all economic environments.”

Despite the positive figures for the Australian branch of the business, the results for the year ending 26 June 2011 also showed a decrease in sales for Dick Smith New Zealand of 5.6 per cent (measured in New Zealand dollars).

This loss was offset by a 27.8 per cent increase in consumer electronics sales in India, thanks to Woolworths Limited’s business venture with the Indian conglomerate company Tata, which operates 64 shopfronts as part of the Croma chain of retail stores in India.

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According to the report, “47 Dick Smith stores opened during the year (41 in Australia, 6 in New Zealand), 56 Dick Smith and 13 Tandy stores were closed during the year and 5 Tandy stores have been rebranded as Dick Smith, taking total stores to 394 (390 Dick Smith and 4 Tandy)”.

In Australia specifically, sales for the full year were $1.3 billion (an increase of 2.1 per cent on the previous year) with comparable store sales up by 4.2 per cent.

“We have increased comparable customer numbers and average basket size,” the profit announcement read. “The comparable store sales for the full year for our Australian Dick Smith stores (excluding Tandy and ex Powerhouse stores) grew 7.1 per cent.

“This result reflects the continued roll out of our new refreshed Dick Smith offer which has driven market share growth in key categories. The new format Dick Smith stores continue to grow sales at a greater rate than the older format stores.

“Consumer Electronics continues to be impacted by tightened consumer spending in Australia and significant price deflation in key products which has been intensified by the strong Australian dollar. The new format stores in Australia, which have now reached 68 per cent of the total store network, are outperforming older format stores.”

In addition to its bricks and mortar offering, Woolworths Limited “has made substantial progress in delivering a multi channel experience…[with] online sales increasing 63 per cent for the year” across all its brands. This result was a reflection of the successes of the Dick Smith, Big W and Woolworths online stores, according to the announcement.