SYDNEY, AAP – Myer shareholders will receive their first dividend in four years after first-half sales improved.

The department store chain on Thursday declared first-half sales rose by eight per cent to $1.5 billion for the 26 weeks to January 29.

Net profit was down 55 per cent to $32.3 million although the retailer said the statutory number was not the best measure of profitability.

Myer received a JobKeeper wage subsidy benefit of $22 million in the prior corresponding period, due to the coronavirus.

If this benefit is removed, the most recent first-half profit is up 55 per cent.

Chief executive John King said the sales improvement came despite the challenges of the Omicron coronavirus wave in January and earlier lockdowns.

Shareholders will receive a fully-franked dividend of 1.5 cents per share.

The boss of the biggest Myer shareholder, Solomon Lew from Premier Investments, recently called for the board to improve performance or resign.

Myer shares on the ASX were higher by 21 per cent to 50 cents at 1115 AEDT.