Australasian home entertainment retail giant JB Hi-Fi continues to defy the economic meltdown, posting another strong set of financial results.

The Melbourne-based company - which currently operates just over 100 JB stores in Australia and New Zealand - today (Feb. 10) announced a group profit of $59 million Australian ($39 million) for the six months ending Dec. 31. Profits were up just over 40% on the back of a 28% increase in sales to $1.262 billion Australian ($840 million).

JB Hi-Fi offers a mix of both entertainment software and hardware, along with computer, camera and telephony products. The company declines to provide a detailed breakdown of the performance of individual product ranges, but said most categories performed solidly.

Chief financial officer Richard Murray was comfortable with the company's music performance and told that the chain continues to gain market share. An improved new release schedule in the last months of 2008 had delivered good volume growth, he said, although JB's core music business is as a range and catalog stockist.

The company also remains fully committed to the bricks and mortar business, despite the growing power of the digital sector. "We view downloading as another competitor, so we need to keep presenting to our customers the value we offer and our range," he said. "Yes, digital is out there and we are aware of it, but our music numbers are solid, all things considered."

Murray was also upbeat about the performance of the New Zealand business, which at present consists of seven JB stores and seven Hill & Stewart outlets; the latter is a white goods and consumer electronics retailer. NZ sales grew 47% to $80.8 million New Zealand ($54 million) in the first six months of the financial year.

All told, the group opened 14 new outlets in Australia and New Zealand in the first half of its financial year, with a further seven due to open in the second half. In addition three outlets originally scheduled to open in the current financial year would now be up opening in July.

"We remain very comfortable with our 150 store target in Australia and New Zealand," Murray added.