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By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: JB Hi-Fi held its annual general meeting today, with company chairman Patrick Elliott and CEO Terry Smart discussing the retailer’s successes over the past year.

The company showcased its strong financial performance from its full year profit results, released in August, with highlights including a 8.3 per cent increase in sales, steady cost of doing business (despite a 4.28 per cent increase in award wages in the last financial year) and the opening of 18 new stores.

The company also announced the impending arrival of a new music streaming service earlier in the year. JB Hi-Fi NOW will be a subscription service offering consumers the opportunity to stream up to 8 million tracks to computers and mobile devices. CEO Terry Smart announced that the service was currently undergoing Beta testing and was on target to launch in six to eight weeks.

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Speaking at the AGM, chairman Patrick Elliott discussed the company’s positive financial results and emphasised the JB Hi-Fi’s employees as the key difference between the retailer and its competitors.

“At the end of the day, what makes JB Hi-Fi successful is the quality of its people,” said Elliott. “We largely retail third people products that are available from any number of merchants. We have seen competitors attempt to replicate product mix, promotional strategies and visual merchandising standards.

“What is difficult to replicate and is the real point of difference is our staff. Our people are passionate about the products and the JB brand and are highly productive. It is critical to the ongoing success of the business that we continue to attract and retain the highest quality staff.”

“In FY11 we saw a net increase in our total employees of over 600 or 11 per cent,” he added. “With each new store opening we create approximately 30 new employment opportunities. We would anticipate creating over 480 new employment opportunities in the Company in the 2012 financial year.”

According to Elliott, the company’s focus on staff and low prices is reaping benefits for its shareholders.

“Shareholders who invested in the IPO in October 2003 have achieved an annual compound return of 31.7 per cent compared to 2.6 per cent for the ASX 200 Accumulation Index over the same period,” he said.