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David Jones to 'aggressively' shut stores

Actress Rose Byrne ringing a bell at the boxing day sales on December 26, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.
Actress Rose Byrne promoting a sale at David Jones. (Image: Getty)

Troubled department store David Jones has revealed its numbers dropped again, and vowed to "aggressively" reduce the number of stores to stop the bleeding.

David Jones' parent company, South Africa's Woolworths Holdings, announced that its Australian brand made just $37 million operating profit for the year ending June 30, down from $64 million last year.

Revenue sunk 0.8 per cent to $2.2 billion.

Although online sales were up 46.8 per cent, the physical stores are struggling. Woolworths especially pointed out renovations at Sydney's flagship Elizabeth St outlet as a drag on sales.

Store closures

The company is now looking to pivot to online sales, and close unprofitable existing stores when leases run out.

In some of the stores it will retain, David Jones will seek to "reduce the number of floors" and negotiate new terms with landlords to "deliver a business that is viable, profitable and smaller (in terms of space)".

Woolworths declined to specify the exact number of stores it would look to close or reduce. David Jones currently has a network of 47 stores.

"We've got to get less stores and less space in the lower demographic areas, we've got to exit any marginal or undesirable leases," said Woolworths chief executive Ian Moir.

A 20 per cent reduction in floor space by 2026, according to Moir, was the immediate aim for David Jones.

Woolworth's presentation to shareholders said that David Jones' future lay in "an absolute focus on the upper-middle to top end of the market (luxury and trend conscious customers)".

The department store would look to "enable a digital, data-driven business with a world-class online offering (10% online sales by 2020 and 20% online sales by 2025)".

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