By Sarah Falson

MELBOURNE: Myer has posted an 84-per cent rise in sales for the half-year to 27 January, due in-part to its new owner, American Texas Pacific Group, cutting costs and limiting discounting. 

Sales earnings rose from $67 million in the corresponding previous period to $123 million, which the new transformed private company classified as a pleasing result.

“Our vision is to be an international class retail business providing inspiration to everyone,” said Myer CEO, Bernie Brooks, in the financial report.

The company has closed most of its warehouses to cut stock and costs since the private consortium takeover last year for $1.4 billion, and is reportedly trying to improve the organisation’s image and customer service. 

“The changes we are bringing are neither complex nor unusual in retailing. The trick is being able to handle up to 100 significant improvement programs virtually simultaneously and in the right priority. The team that [Myer executive chairman] Bill [Wavish] and I have assembled, or retained, has met our expectations,” said Brooks. 

In addition to the changes, Brooks has also cut some staff’s working hours. 

"There’s been some changes in the allocated hours, particularly for part-time staff, but that’s aimed at providing a better service to our customers," he said.

Four new Myer logistics centres will open by July in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, and today’s announcement said 12 new Myer stores will be open before the end of the year, bringing the chain’s total to 75 stores. 

"[When this happens], those permanent part-timers, we’d like to think it gives us the opportunity to restore their hours as we move people around into those new stores,” said Brooks.

Myer’s former parent-company, the Coles Group, formerly Coles Myer, yesterday posted sales growth at its lowest in seven years, with the Group’s net profit after tax up just 3.5 per cent to $501 million in the half-year ending 28 January 2007, compared with a 3.88 per cent increase in the corresponding previous period and a 4.15 per cent increase in the corresponding previous period before that.

The Group also welcomed official expressions of interest to buy either part of its business – including Officeworks, Target and Kmart – or the entire unit.