JB Hi-Fi gets virus lift in March quarter

JB Hi-Fi has posted strong March quarter growth as customers rushed to buy home appliances and technology products before COVID-19-related social restrictions were brought in and online sales jumped.

The electronics and appliances retailer saw an 11.3 per cent increase in sales, on a comparable basis, at its JB Hi-Fi stores and online sales in Australia and a 13.9 per cent increase in sales at The Good Guys during the three-month period. 

Sales dipped 3.3 per cent in New Zealand, where stores had to be closed in March and April due to restrictions.

That means 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 at The Good Guys chain.

“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. 

The retailer in March withdrew its FY20 sales and earnings guidance as a result of the uncertainty arising from COVID-19.

Before that, it had reported comparable sales growth of 4.4 per cent at its Australian stores for the first six months of the financial year.

The company said the JB HI-FI Australia business had closed three airport stores and seven stores in CBD locations in response to the shift in foot traffic away from airports and shopping centres.

Staff from these locations were redeployed across the store network. 

All The Good Guys stores remain open.

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 sales growth in Australia has continued into April and early May but the group said it was not appropriate to provide an FY20 guidance, given the ongoing disruption in shopping patterns.

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