JB Hi-Fi gets virus lift in March quarter
JB Hi-Fi has posted strong March quarter growth as customers forced to work from home rushed to buy home appliances and technology products before COVID-19-related social restrictions were brought in.
The electronics and appliances retailer saw an 11.3 per cent increase in comparable sales for the three months to March 31 at its JB Hi-Fi stores and online sales in Australia.
Sales at The Good Guys chain, which focuses on electrical and home appliances, rose 13.9 per cent during the three-month period.
"Our customers have turned to us for their technology and home appliance needs as they adapt to these unique circumstances," group chief executive Richard Murray said.
That has meant sales for the three quarters until March-end were up 6.4 per cent at the JB Hi-Fi business in Australia and up 4.9 per cent across The Good Guys chain.
The news was cheered by investors, with shares in the company up nearly 4.0 per cent to $35.29 by 1315 AEST.
The retailer withdrew its FY20 sales and earnings guidance as a result of the uncertainty arising from COVID-19 after federal and state governments introduced strict social distancing regulations in late March.
But the strong acceleration in the group's sales in March ties in with overall retail data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which showed retail spending jumped by its highest ever in March, led by food and office supplies.
JB Hi-Fi had reported overall comparable sales growth of 4.4 per cent at its Australian stores for the first six months of the financial year.
The company closed three airport JB Hi-Fi stores and seven stores in CBD locations in response to the shift in foot traffic, with staff from these locations redeployed across the store network.
All The Good Guys stores remain open.
Meanwhile, sales dipped 3.3 per cent in New Zealand, with all 14 stores having to be closed in March and April due to restrictions there. Online and commercial sales have now resumed in the New Zealand business.
The group said it was taking a conservative approach to its balance sheet management and had secured approval for an additional $260 million of short-term debt to improve its liquidity position.
JB Hi-Fi's strong performance in Australia has continued into April and early May but the group says it is still not appropriate to provide an FY20 guidance, given the ongoing disruption in shopping patterns.
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