Strong growth in earnings at Coles, Kmart and Bunnings has pushed Wesfarmers' profit 9 per cent higher.
Perth-based Wesfarmers has reported a 9.3 per cent increase in its first-half net profit to $1.285 billion, on a 3.2 per cent rise in revenue to $30.6 billion.
The company says its underlying profit, excluding profit items not related to its trading activities, was up 6.8 per cent.
Wesfarmers says strong retail earnings for Coles, Bunnings and Kmart, as well as a turnaround in its insurance division's performance, drove profit growth, more than offsetting reduced earnings for Target and the company's resources division.
The company highlighted the performance of its Coles supermarket division, which increased earnings by 15.1 per cent - three times the rate of its revenue growth - to $755 million.
Kmart also posted a large earnings rise of almost 25 per cent to $246 million.
However, Target lagged the conglomerate's other retail outlets, with earnings down more than 20 per cent, partly due to increased spending on trying to turn around the brand's performance.
The resources division was also hit hard, with earnings down by almost two-thirds on lower export coal prices and a strong Australian dollar.
Wesfarmers' chief executive Richard Goyder says he was happy with the overall result, and the coal division's profit did not reflect a strong operational performance.
"It's a pleasing result I think, particularly given the challenging conditions we're experiencing in our resources division at the moment, where we've got falling export prices together with a strong Australian dollar," he said.
"That meant earnings in that division were down significantly on last year, notwithstanding some very significant and good work on reducing operating costs." However, insurance earnings were up $87 million to $104 million due to a fall in claims and lower catastrophe costs.
The company's various chemical, fertiliser and industrial divisions posted mid-to-high single-digit earnings growth.
Mr Goyder says Wesfarmers expects its retail division to keep driving profit growth.
"We expect growth from the group's retail businesses as we improve customer offers and operating efficiencies and strengthen all of our channels to market," he noted in the report.
However, Mr Goyder dismissed suggestions that Coles has squeezed suppliers of food and other goods to achieve its profit growth.
"Australian consumers have for too long worn higher and higher prices for food and groceries in this country, above the rate of inflation," he said.
"What Coles has done has, over a period of time, reduced prices, we've forced others to follow us, and I think that's been a very good thing for consumers." The company has declared an interim dividend of 77 cents, up 10 per cent on the same period a year ago.
Investors welcomed the result, pushing Wesfarmers shares 1.7 per cent higher to $39.06 by 2:35pm (AEDT).