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The one store thriving despite Australia’s retail apocalypse

JB Hi-Fi is thriving amid Australia's retail apocalypse. Source: Getty

Australia’s retail sector has taken a turn for the worst, but one store has managed to buck the trend and record its strongest half-year profit yet: JB Hi-Fi.

The electronics store reported its total revenue hit $4 billion, up 3.9 per cent on 2019, and an increase of almost $2 billion since 2016. 

“We are pleased to report record sales and earnings in the first half, with JB HI-FI Australia and The Good Guys recording strong earnings growth,” group chief executive, Richard Murray said. 

But there aren’t many stores posting growing revenue results - or even surviving - in Australia’s current climate.

Jewellery and accessories store Colette by Colette Hayman fell into voluntary administration on February 3, just weeks after Jeanswest announced it would shut 37 stores and axe nearly 300 workers. 

Fashion brand Bardot collapsed in November 2019, rounding out a tough year for retail which saw the likes of Roger David, Topshop, Metalicus, Esprit, Toys ‘R’ Us and Shoes of Prey shut doors. 

Why JB HI-FI is thriving

Retail expert Amanda Stevens told Yahoo Finance that the electronics store’s surprising results aren’t that surprising at all, given their customer service model. 

“I don't have many retail experiences these days that feel sticky,” she said. “And what I mean by that is that I don't have many experiences in-store that make me really feel compelled to go back to that store.”

But JB HI-FI is giving Stevens that ‘sticky’ experience.

“If you've been into JB Hi-Fi lately, it's a fast-moving big box retailer, but they really have knowledgeable staff, which is always a sigh of relief for consumers versus other retailers you go into, and you could spend up to 15 minutes finding someone to give your money to.”

And it’s something JB HI-FI’s chief agreed with.

“I would like to thank over 12,000 team members across Australia and New Zealand whose hard work and continued focus on our customers delivered this result,” Murray said. 

What do other stores need to do to keep up?

The best way for retailers to keep up is to stop seeing staff as a cost on the bottom line, and start seeing them as an investment, Stevens said.

“They have the ability to turn each and every customer into a brand advocate but they've got to be empowered to do that, and have got to be shown how to do that, and they've got to be rewarded for doing it.”

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