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Stores the core of Myer, despite online


Myer says its store network remains at the core of the business despite the fact Australian department stores are being squeezed by online retailers.

No business should abandon its core, said chairman Paul McClintock, responding to shareholder concerns at the company's annual general meeting, saying Myer was committed to get people into stores.

Chief executive Bernie Brookes said online retailers had the advantage of rent and labour costs that were less than half of those paid by traditional retailers, but Myer would integrate the two and optimise costs.

Mr Brookes reiterated Myer's five-point plan strategy, which includes improving customer service in stores - which is regarded as having declined.

Another point is optimising the store network, which includes closing poor performers in Fremantle and Canberra.

Space previously used for now ditched white goods and CDs/DVDs is being devoted to strong-performing brands.

The extra space would be used for brands such as Lipsy, to strengthen earnings out of what Mr Brooke's called the "girls party dress" market and ensure Myer was the first choice for fashion, cosmetics and the home.

Myer's remuneration report was comfortably approved by shareholders despite opposition from the Australian Shareholders Association about pay rises, with Mr Brookes' base salary rising from $1.6 million to $1.7 million out of total remuneration of more than $3 million.

Myer's full year profit in 2011/12 fell 12.7 per cent from the previous year to $139.4 million, with sales down 1.3 per cent.

Its sales in the first quarter of the current year were up one per cent from the same period in the previous year.