Retailer, JB Hi-Fi, is banking on the launch of new Apple iPhones and Microsoft Surface 3, along with improved stock availability of PS4 and Xbox One, to help drive sales in the Christmas period.
In his annual general meeting address, JB Hi-Fi CEO, Richard Murray, said despite FY14 being a good year for the retailer, trading conditions were challenging due to a market-wide decline in tablet sales and weaker consumer sentiment.
“Pleasingly we have returned to positive comparable sales growth in September and October, which is a good improvement on the first two months of trading, and places us in a good position as we move into the key Christmas trading period,” Murray stated.
He pointed out that recent product releases including the launch of the new Apple iPhones and Microsoft Surface 3 as well as improved stock availability of the PS4 and Xbox One gaming consoles, assisted the retailer in returning to sales growth and that these products will help drive sales in the Christmas period.
The retailer has maintained a guidance for FY15 total comparative sales of about $3.6 billion.
Murray said it will continue to focus on rolling out its JB Hi-Fi Home; new store openings; expanding its commercial division and new opportunities created by its newly designed website.
“These opportunities combined with the maturation of the 21 stores opened over the past two years and an exciting new product outlook, will drive sales and earnings growth,” Murray said.
The retailer also has its eye on growth within the home appliances market, currently worth about $4.6 billion. It currently has 22 JB Hi-Fi Home stores and during this financial year, it expects to open five more Home stores and convert about 26 existing JB Hi-Fi stores to the Home format, which will take it up to 53 stores by the end of the financial year.
“The JB Hi-Fi Home expansion is one year ahead of our original expectations and we continue to build support from suppliers and engagement with our customers and staff,” he said. “To support the expansion of JB Hi-Fi Home and our ongoing growth in commercial sales and large format TVs, we are developing a low cost, fit for purpose supply chain and logistics strategy with facilities recently opened in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.”
In July, the retailer launched a new website design providing improved search functionality and more product information. During FY14, online sales represented about 2.2 per cent of total sales, which were reported at $3.48 billion.
Murray said it would also be taking a review into gender diversity since recognising the majority of regional and senior management roles were occupied by long serving male employees.
“In the short term this poses challenges in achieving our diversity objectives,” he said. “As a new CEO, together with the Board, we are taking the opportunity to review and if necessary, refocus our action plans around achieving our gender diversity objectives.”
As of June 30, the retailer had 182 stores across Australia and New Zealand, and stated it was on track to reach its target of 214 locations. During this financial year, it will open eight new stores ( three JB Hi-Fi stores and five JB Hi-Fi Home stores).