Woolworths Limited today announced third quarter FY14 sales from continuing operations of $15.2 billion, an increase of 5.3% on the previous year or 5.9% after adjusting for the impact of Easter1. Easter falling into Q4 this year has created significant timing and trading differences when compared to Q3 last year.
CEO Grant O’Brien said: “Trading patterns and momentum for the third quarter were similar to the first half of FY14 and continue to reflect our ongoing focus on the four Strategic Priorities that are transforming our business for the future.
“Ongoing momentum was evident in our Australian Food, Liquor and Petrol business, with sales increasing 4.6% on the previous year or 5.1% Easter adjusted1. This is evidenced through market share growth and demonstrates the success of the work undertaken to deliver our first Strategic Priority ‘to extend our leadership in Food and Liquor’, with Fresh sales and market share growing faster than Grocery.
“Customer insights are enabling tailored offers and loyalty rewards based on individual shopping preferences. We continue to provide the most compelling offer to our customers by delivering unbeatable value and a shopping experience which increasingly caters for individual needs.
“The ‘More Savings Every Day’ program continues to reinforce our value proposition as customers benefit from lower average prices, as evidenced by price deflation of 2.9% when the effects of promotions and volumes are included.
“Petrol volumes decreased on last year, reflecting changes in the level of promotional activity. Sales increased 5.5% on the previous year or 5.1% Easter adjusted1, with forecourt improvements and an enhanced merchandise offer continuing to deliver positive results.
“New Zealand Supermarkets’ sales increased 0.1% on the previous year (16.2% in AUD), reflecting subdued grocery market conditions, a highly competitive marketplace and price deflation across a number of categories.
“As anticipated, General Merchandise sales continue to be impacted by the business transformation of BIG W as well as challenging trading conditions, ongoing price deflation and continued promotional activity.
“We recently announced the appointment of Alistair McGeorge as the new Managing Director of BIG W. Alistair brings 20 years of senior management experience in General Merchandise and Apparel retailing and is well placed to take BIG W through its transformation process. Alistair will commence in June 2014.
“Hotel sales increased 1.1% on the previous year or 0.6% Easter adjusted1. Trading conditions varied by geography with Victoria and Queensland continuing to be challenging.
“With respect to our new growth businesses, Home Improvement sales increased 29.0% on the previous year, with 45 Masters stores now trading. We opened seven stores during the quarter and remain on track to open 18 stores this financial year.
“Online sales increased by more than 50%, reinforcing our multi-option leadership in Australian Food and Liquor. Click & Collect sales across the Group increased by more than 100% as we build stronger platforms to give customers additional choice in how they choose to shop with us.
“We expanded our network, adding an additional 29 sites across our portfolio during the quarter and are on target to meet our projection of creating almost 7,000 new jobs in FY14.
“We are very focused on the final quarter of the financial year and continuing the momentum generated in our business through successful execution of our Strategic Priorities.”
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