Woolies announces big profit, expects more

Woolworths records multi-billion dollar profit, and expects to continue its dominance in spite of economic downturn

By Brad Gardner

Supermarket giant Woolworths has recorded a multi-billion dollar profit, and the company expects to continue its dominance in spite of the economic downturn.

In releasing Woolworths’ first half year sales results today, Chief Executive Michael Luscombe announced an 8.8 percent increase in sales of $26.1 billion, up $2.1 billion.

Woolworths recorded profit across all its sectors, with the biggest gains in its consumer electronics, general merchandise, supermarket and petrol divisions.

"This a pleasing result in a more challenging economic environment and I am confident that we are well positioned to meet future challenges," Luscombe says.

Although saying factors such as consumer confidence, unemployment and petrol prices are hard to predict in light of recent events, Woolworths’ sales outlook is positive despite uncertainty over discretionary spending.

"Subject to the uncertainty regarding these factors, we expect sales from continuing operations to grow in the upper single digits (excluding petrol sales) on a 52 week basis," a statement from Woolworths says.

According to the half year results, petrol sales jumped 15 percent or $3.1 billion for the half.

Woolworths credited its business venture with TATA in India for producing $90 million in sales of consumer electronics for the half year.

Australian food and liquor sales increased by 9.8 percent over last year, rising to $16.9 billion on the back of an 8.7 percent increase in Woolworths’ supermarket division.

The results show domestic supermarket profits increased from $20.3 billion to $22.1 billion, adding to the more than $2 billion profit from Woolworths’ New Zealand operations.

Earnings guidance for the full year will be released on February 27.

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