Beleaguered Australian retail giant Coles Myer has forecast annual profit growth of around 21% at its annual meeting.

CEO John Fletcher told the meeting that the group expects to post 2002/03 earnings in line with market expectations of between A$425m and A$435m (US$237m-243m).

In October, Coles Myer reported a net profit of A$354m for 2001/02, up 6% from the previous year as its Myer Grace department stores struggled to make ends meet.

Director Solomon Lew told the meeting he was unlikely to hold his position after 17 years as a director. Lew won around 268 million proxy votes for his reappointment, while 294 million voted against him and 51 million votes were left in the hands of chairman Rick Allert, who is against Lew’s re-election onto the board, reported Reuters.