By Patrick Avenell

Electrical products have continued being the thorn in David Jones’ side, with CEO Paul Zahra today confirming that consumer electronics is the most difficult category within the department store’s broad range.

Commenting on David Jones’ second quarter sales for the company’s 2012 financial year, which encompasses the three months to 31 January 2012, Zahra said trading conditions remained tough, though he retains some optimism for the year ahead.

“Trading conditions continue to reflect the uncertainty in the macro-economic environment, with conservative consumer shopping continuing and no signs that this is changing,” he said. “Nonetheless, we did an improvement in December 2011 and January 2012 compared to October 2011 and November 2011, which in turn were better than August 2011 and September 2011.”

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David Jones reported total sales for the quarter of just under $600 million, down from $617 million in the corresponding period last year. Like-for-like sales were down 2.4 per cent. The company reaffirmed its profit after tax guidance for the first half of FY2012 at -15 to -20 per cent.

Speaking specifically about the diverse category David Jones operates in, he isolated electronics as the worst performer.

“The performance of our beauty category was a highlight this quarter, and despite the impact of cooler weather through 2Q12, our better performing categories were women’s wear, men’s wear, footwear and accessories, all of which delivered positive growth for the quarter,” Zahra said, though he did disclose that this partly due to the company clearing excess stock.

“Electricals continued to be the most challenging category.”

Zahra concluded by saying the newly refurbished stores at Chadstone, in Victoria; Marion, in South Australia; and Warringah Mall, in New South Wales; were performing well. David Jones is currently refurbishing its Toowong Village, in Queensland, store.