David Jones' owners say "extremely challenging" conditions continue to batter the up-market department store and its sister retailer Country Road, contributing to a decline in sales over the past year.
The South African retail group Woolworths Holdings on Thursday afternoon revealed that comparable sales at David Jones rose 2.7 per cent in the second half of the year, but were 0.4 per cent lower across the full 52 weeks to June 24.
Country Road Group sales grew 1.7 per cent for the year, including the addition of the Politix menswear brand to the business, but comparable sales fell 1.8 per cent. The group includes the Country Road, Mimco and Witchery brands.
David Jones and Country Road's performance was supported by significant growth in online sales. David Jones' online trade grew 21 per cent to contribute 5.3 per cent of its total sales, while Country Road's online chanel represented 18 per cent of total sales, with growth of 20 per cent.
"2018 has been a difficult year for the group, as we contended with extremely challenging trading conditions in South Africa and Australia, as well as poor product execution in some areas of womenswear," Woolworths said in a statement.
"It has been a year in which we substantially completed key David Jones business transformation initiatives.
"The disruption experienced during the year by the implementation of new inventory and online systems, the repositioning of the foods business, and the head office relocation, impacted both gross margin and costs."
David Jones' result will be closely watched by investors in the ASX-listed Myer, which has suffered sales declines of 3 per cent this year.