Woolworths has enjoyed positive results for the 17 weeks to June 2.
Total group sales from the combined retail and entertainment wholesale and publishing businesses increased by 11.4%.
Speaking at today’s AGM, chairman Gerald Corbett said: “Trading within Woolworths at -0.6%, like for like, is in line with our internal expectations for the first 17 weeks of our financial year. The softening of the like-for-like performance reflects that in the comparative period last year we cleared stock aggressively, generating sales. With our improved stock quality such activity was not required this year. As a consequence the gross margin rate in recent weeks has been substantially ahead of the prior year.”
He said outdoor ranges had benefited from the early warm weather, and that customer response to the second Big Red Book had been positive: multichannel sales had doubled.
Corbett said Woolworths was approaching the second half “with a degree of caution. In continuing to plan for a challenging retail environment we will run the business tightly, with a focus on cash generation, cost control and improved margin performance.”