David Jones presented its half-year financial results last night, with its profit climbing just 1.6% to $106 million. As part of a turnaround plan, the department chain says it will be launching its new online retail store and a sophisticated new loyalty program later this year.
David Jones slow earnings for the first half of 2017 reflects the tough malaise that has enveloped the Australian retail sector in the lead-up to Christmas, with sales growth of 4 percent, compared to an 11.2 percent spike the previous half-year. Department store earnings dropped by 0.9 percent or $1 million, to $97 million.
Heavy discounting and mistakes around the mix and launch of David Jones private label are also being blamed for the upmarket chain’s performance slump.
“We got stuff wrong and we got it badly wrong,” Woolworths Holdings chief executive Ian Moir told analysts on Thursday night, referring to mistakes around its private label.
“Our systems didn’t speak to each other, we didn’t know where stock was, it arrived late, then it arrived in the wrong mix and we spent too much launching brands when the product wasn’t there. We’ve slowed the whole thing down, we’ve sorted out execution issues – and we’re getting there.”
Despite this the company says it will continue to push for its private label.
“It’s going to take longer than we originally planned … part of that is because of our stuff-ups, the way we slowed down, but the strategy is right.”
Heavy discounting has been the other issue sited for the South African owned chain. Moir said its widespread discounting, poor consumer sentiment and changes in its service model have all taken a toll on its bottom line.
The brand however has some new strategies in place that will go live in the June quarter, which it hopes will address its poor performance, including its new online retail platform, new merchandise, planning and finance systems. David Jones head office will also shift to Melbourne in mid-2018.
In a major step in David Jones scheme to rival Myer’s Myer One rewards program, the company will also launch its new loyalty card program Style Rewards later this year, which it says is unlike anything consumers have seen before.
The company says its new loyalty program is a more sophisticated model, which leverages consumer insights garnered from its e-commerce platform and digital marketing database, to offer more tailored rewards to its consumers.
This is amidst the chain delaying the program while working on its new customer relationship management program, after being bought out by South African retail group Woolworths Holdings in 2014.
David Jones says its new rewards program will work in conjunction with its upcoming revamped e-commerce platform and email direct marketing, providing access to a whole lot of untapped information about consumers that it couldn’t access in the past.
Two years ago Woolworths Holdings paid $2.1 billion to buy the David Jones department store chain. Witchery, Trenery, Country Road and Mimco are amongst the other Australian born labels also acquired by the Group.