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David Jones, Country Road hit hard by Victorian lockdown

Photo of David Jones signage

The 12-week lockdown in Victoria had a sizeable impact on department store David Jones’ half, parent company Woolworths Holdings said, with sales declining over the past 26 weeks by 8 per cent.

However, excluding Victorian stores saw the business trade up 5.9 per cent, including online which grew 55 per cent during the half.

Fashion group Country Road also saw sales drop during the period, down 5.2 per cent, though they improved in the last six weeks by 6.7 per cent due to the release of new product ranges.

Excluding Victorian stores the group’s sales rose 8.2 per cent.

Country Road’s online sales grew 52.5 per cent during the period, and made up almost a third of total sales.

Despite this, South African parent company Woolworths Holdings expects an 70 to 80 per cent improvement on earnings per share during the half – largely due to the sale of David Jones’ Bourke Street property, which sold for $121 million and generated a $23.5 million profit, and a wide-scale renegotiation of leases for David Jones stores which brought in $57 million in savings.

Charter Hall also purchased David Jones’ Elizabeth Street flagship store for $510 million in December on a sale and leaseback transaction to the department store, which guarantees DJs can operate in the property for the next 20 years.

David Jones recently completed a $200 million refurbishment of the site, which had an ongoing impact on the business’ bottom line of the last few years, but returned the business to its place as “the grand old dame of luxury retail” according to former-CEO Ian Moir.

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