CANBERRA, AAP – Retailing and chemicals giant Wesfarmers has reported a near 15 per cent increase in its half year profit with strong sales and earnings across its businesses.

The owner of Bunnings, the Kmart Group and Officeworks reported strong trading results for the half, reflecting their ability to adapt to changing customer preferences.

Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said the result were pleasing as they come during a period of continued disruption and uncertainty due to COVID-19.

“Pleasing progress on the Group’s data and digital agenda in recent years supported strong online sales growth and digital engagement during the half,” Mr Scott said.

Total online sales across the Group more than doubled for the half.

The directors of the company agreed to pay a fully franked interim dividend of $0.88 per share, reflecting the 14.9 per cent increase in net profit before tax of $1.3 billion.

Operating cash flow increased four per cent for the half to $2.2 billion.

Mr Scott said Kmart and Target stores delivered record earnings for the period, with results from Target stores that have been converted to Kmart stores continuing to be very encouraging.

Nineteen stores were converted during the half.

“Target’s profitability improved significantly, supported by strong demand and the ongoing simplification of the business,” he said.