SYDNEY, AAP – Wesfarmers, which owns Bunning hardware stores and other big-name retailers, has lifted annual profit by 16 per cent and plans to return more than $2 billion to shareholders after a “strong” year.

Net profit – excluding significant items related to the closure of multiple Target stores and the conversion of others to KMart – rose to $2.4 billion in 2020/21, from $2.1 billion the year before.

“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,” managing director Rob Scott said on Friday.

“Bunnings, KMart Group and Officeworks delivered strong sales and earnings growth.”

A 10 per cent rise in group revenue to $33.9 billion was mostly driven by customers working from home and generally spending more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kmart operations recorded the biggest rise in pre-tax earnings at 69 per cent, followed by Bunnings at 19.7 per cent and Officeworks at 7.6 per cent.

“The retail divisions are well-positioned for the resumption of normal trading as (coronavirus related) lockdowns and restrictions ease,” Wesfarmers, which also owns online retailer Catch, said in a statement.

Wesfarmers shareholders will get a final dividend for the year of $1.78, up 17 per cent on the year before, taking the total payout for the year to $2.66.

The company also plans to return surplus cash to shareholders totalling $2.3 billion, or $2 per share.

But the capital return must first be approved by shareholders at an annual general meeting in October.

If approved, shareholders will get their money in early December.

Wesfarmers also owns a chemicals, energy and fertilisers division and an industrial and safety unit.