Australia's Myer posts H1 loss on writedowns

Australia’s biggest department store chain Myer Holdings on Wednesday posted its worst half-year result since listing as it wrote down the value of its assets due to weak sales in its busiest period.

Myer

Myer reported a net loss of A$476.2 million ($366.0 million) for the six months to Jan. 27, against a profit of A$62.8 million a year earlier, prompting the company to suspend its interim dividend payment.

Excluding a non-cash impairment charge of A$500.2 million, Myer said its underlying half-yearly profit came in at A$40.1 million. This was in line with company guidance in February, but also its worst underlying interim result since its 2009 listing.

Total sales fell 3.6 percent as the 118-year-old staple of Australian retail struggled to meet challenges to its business model.

Bigger online rivals like Amazon.com Inc have kept bargain-hunters at home, while global fashion chains like H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB have lured shoppers with wider ranges.

Myer, meanwhile, is facing off against its biggest shareholder, veteran retail investor Solomon Lew, who has been using his 10.7 percent stake to lobby smaller shareholders for support as he seeks to remove Myer’s entire board.

Executive Chairman Garry Hounsell said the half-year results reflected a number of execution issues, including the failure to respond appropriately to a heightened competitive environment prior to Christmas.

Myer’s results followed a slowdown in the end-of-calendar-year holiday season, with national retail sales data showing a weaker-than-expected December for retailers across the board.

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