Australian retail group Wesfarmers has seen results jump for the 2021 full year, reporting a 40% uplift in net profit after tax to AU$2.38 billion.
Managing director Rob Scott reported the conglomerate -- which is made up of Bunnings, Officeworks, and Kmart Group -- delivered total revenue just short of AU$34 billion, a 10% uplift on last year, for the period ending 30 June 2021.
"While COVID-19 had a significant impact on operations during the year, the group's businesses maintained their focus on building deeper customer relationships and trust," he said.
"Bunnings, Kmart Group, and Officeworks delivered strong sales and earnings growth for the year. While customer demand remained resilient, sales growth in Bunnings, Officeworks, and Catch moderated from mid-March as the businesses began to cycle elevated demand following the onset of COVID-19 in the prior year. Pleasingly, sales growth from mid-March remained strong on a two-year basis across all of the group's retail businesses."
Scott also detailed that an increase in digital engagement resulted in 57% growth in group online sales, excluding Catch, to AU$2.4 billion. Including Catch, online sales hit AU$3.3 billion. Online sales for the Kmart Group -- which includes Kmart, Target, and Catch -- increased to AU$1.9 billion for the year.
"This was partially offset by higher operational costs associated with online fulfilment and ongoing investment in technology in Kmart," Scott said.
"Kmart continued to invest in key strategic initiatives to enhance its customer offer, increase resilience and flexibility in its supply chain and support the development of data and digital assets and capabilities."
Meanwhile, gross capital expenditure was 3.3% higher than last year to AU$86 million, which also included the company's data and digital investments.
"The group commenced the development of a data and digital ecosystem that will enable a more seamless and personalised customer experience across the retail businesses," Scott said.
Looking ahead, the company said it would continue to develop its data and digital ecosystem.
"Progress has accelerated on the development of a data and digital ecosystem, which will provide customers a more seamless and personalised digital experience across the Wesfarmers retail businesses," the company said.
"To support this initiative, operating expenditure of approximately AU$100 million is expected to be incurred over the next 12 months. The group's retail businesses will maintain their focus on meeting the changing needs of customers, including through accelerated investment in data and digital capabilities to deliver even greater value, quality, and convenience."