By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: David Jones reported a profit after tax of $105.7 million for the six months to 29 January 2011, up from $100.5 million from the prior corresponding period. The company’s gross profit margin was also maintained within the target range, according to Paul Zahra, CEO.

“Despite a very competitive environment in the first half of 2011, with heavy promotional activity by retailers, we are pleased to report that our first half year profit after tax was up 5.2 per cent,” said Zahra today in a statement on the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Our gross profit margin remained within our target band of 39.5 per cent to 40 per cent, our cost of doing business was reduced by 80 basis points, our inventory was well managed and our interim dividend was up 1 cent to a record high first half of 13 cps fully franked.”

Sales for the company fell 0.2 per cent from $1,086.1 million in the first half of 2010 to $1.083.1 in the first half of this year, impacted by fragile consumer sentiment.

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The company’s outlook has been marked by a trading environment influenced by adverse weather in Queensland and Victoria, the natural disasters in Japan and unrest in the Middle East.

“Subject to no further deterioration in consumer sentiment and no further adverse changes in the macroeconomic environment, we reaffirm our 5 per cent to 10 per cent profit after tax growth guidance for the second half of 2011 and the 2012 financial year, noting however that if consumer shopping behaviour continues as per second quarter 2011 we expect our profit after tax growth will be at the lower end of our guidance.”