(Adds comparison period, CEO quote, shares)
Nov 1 (Reuters) - Australia’s biggest department store chain Myer Holdings said on Wednesday first-quarter comparable store sales fell from a year earlier as a result of “challenging retail conditions” and stiffer competition.
Total sales for the 13 weeks to Oct. 28 fell 2.8 percent to A$699 million ($535.1 million), the company said. On a comparable store basis, sales fell 2.1 percent.
“Sales during Q1 FY2018 reflect the continuation of challenging retail conditions characterised by heightened competition and subdued consumer sentiment,” Chief Executive and Managing Director Richard Umbers said.
The retailer, which reported its worst annual profit in September since listing, hurt by new online rivals like Amazon.com, said its online sales grew by 67.8 percent on the previous corresponding period.
Myer’s top shareholder, Solomon Lew, last month said the company was “out of touch” and “arrogant” after it had rejected his request for three board seats and had rebuffed his attempts to engage the board on strategy.
Myer had declined to offer earnings guidance in its annual results release as it asked investors to back a turnaround based on shutting stores and ramping up online sales, a strategy which Lew said was failing.
Myer shares were down 1.3 percent in early trading, while the broader market was up 0.5 percent.
$1 = 1.3063 Australian dollars Reporting by Christina Martin in Bengaluru; Editing by Byron Kaye and Stephen Coates