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Woolworths Group pushes through “challenging” quarter, eyes Christmas trade

Woolworths Group has come through “arguably the most challenging Covid quarter” of the past two years with a slight bump in sales and large movement online.

The business’ first quarter results group sales grew 7.8 per cent over the same period of FY21 to $16 billion, while e-commerce operations jumped 53.5 per cent to almost $1.9 billion.

According to group chief executive Brad Banducci, the business’ stores and supply chain were significantly impacted by prolonged lockdown restrictions – especially in NSW and Victoria – but, as restrictions have eased, so have sales.

Sales in Australian supermarkets rose 3.9 per cent, far short of the two-year average of 8.7 per cent, while New Zealand food sales rose 9.7 per cent.

Sales in Big W, however, fell 17.5 per cent, once again below the two year average of a 0.3 per cent decline, due to store closures and trading restrictions. This improved in October as restrictions eased, Banducci said, but noted that Big W’s success will be even more dependent on this year’s holiday period.

“Since the Delta outbreak began, over 22,000 team members have had to isolate and we have had over 1,500 exposure sites across our network,” Banducci said.

“As we look ahead, we will continue to prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of our team members and customers. The Vaccination Roadmap announced last week is an example of this commitment.

“Our focus is now firmly on Christmas and the festive season more broadly, [and] while the outlook remains uncertain, and there are likely to be challenges in the weeks ahead, we are excited about helping our customers celebrate a much-needed festive season in an inspirational, safe and enjoyable way.”

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