Profits fall for David Jones but fashion on the rise: Midday roundup

Department store giant David Jones’ half-yearly profit has fallen 13.5% to $73.5 million due to fewer sales and tough market conditions.

Sales brought in just over $1 billion, a drop of 0.7% since this time last year.

The profits of the upmarket fashion business were also impacted by an increase in spending as it continues to implement its “future strategic direction plan”.

The fashion and beauty categories delivered sales growth with the youth, luxury and Australian designer areas doubling their sales, but this was offset by declines in the home sector.

David Jones announced an interim dividend of 10 cents per share.

Orica to shed 400 jobs

Explosives maker Orica has flagged 400 job cuts at its struggling Minova consumables unit, but executives are confident there will be no more write-downs.

Despite volumes at the mining consumables unit being down 15% and the company being forced to lower prices to maintain its market share, Orica says it’s not planning a sale, despite considering this option last year.

Orica wrote down the value of the division by $367 million last November to $1.1 billion.

Chief executive Ian Smith told The Australian Financial Review it would cut 10% or 200 jobs from the Minova workforce in the first half of the 2013 financial year and further 200 jobs in the second half.

New disaster recovery bill to aid small businesses

Emergency Management Minister Mark Dreyfus QC announced this morning a permanent solution to providing disaster assistance to workers, small business people and farmers who experience a loss of income as a direct result of a disaster.

The Disaster Recovery Allowance will provide fortnightly payments equivalent to the maximum rate of the Newstart Allowance for up to 13 weeks.

This new allowance program will replace the already existing Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy payment, which is delivered via an ex-gratia agreement.

“Over this summer Australians have suffered devastating disasters, including cyclones, flooding and bushfires.

“Supporting workers, small businesses and farmers following a disaster and keeping them in their local area is key to long term community recovery,” Dreyfus says.

Shares fall on more Cyprus concerns

The Australian sharemarket has continued to fall this morning following more global fears over the Cyprus banking crisis.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 38 points or 0.78% to 4,948.6 at 12.15 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.8 points last night to 14,455.



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