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Coles drives profit growth for Wesfarmers


Wesfarmers' first half profit is up nine per cent as earnings growth by Coles and hardware chain Bunnings more than offset a weaker performance by Target and its coal operations.

Wesfarmers made a net profit of $1.29 billion in the six months to December 31, up from $1.176 billion in the previous corresponding period.

Coles posted earnings growth of 15 per cent, due to growing customer numbers.

Earnings from the Bunnings business rose by seven per cent from the same period in the previous year, but Target suffered a 20 per cent fall in earnings due to spending on its new strategy.

Wesfarmers' resources operations also posted lower earnings because of lower coal prices and the high Australian dollar.

Chief executive Richard Goyder said he expected further earnings growth in the company's retail businesses in the second half of the financial year.

"We expect growth from the group's retail businesses as we further improve customer offers and operating efficiencies, and strengthen all of our channels to market," he said in a statement.

Mr Goyder said he was cautiously optimistic about the second half of the financial year, despite continued economic and market uncertainty which will impact Wesfarmers' resources operations.

The company declared a fully-franked interim dividend of 77 cents, up 10 per cent on the 70 cents it paid at the same time in previous year.