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Woolworths 26-week sales up 9.8% y/y

Woolworths Holdings announced Thursday that group sales increased by 9.8% for the 26 weeks to 26 December 2010 compared with the same period last year. Comparable store sales growth for the period was 5.9%.

The group said clothing sales in SA grew 11.5% on the prior year and 9.2% in comparable stores, but general merchandise sales were impacted by the decision to materially downsize the group's previously unprofitable Connect business.

The Woolworths Financial Services closing debtors' book remained at the same level as last year. The impairment charge as a percentage of average gross receivables was 1.6% from 2009's 6.2%.

Woolworths also said that it expects that both earnings per share and headline earnings per share for the period will be between 17% and 20% higher than the corresponding period in the 2010 financial year.

The group's effective tax rate has increased as it resumes paying STC on distributions.

Adjusted HEPS will be between 24% and 27% higher than the corresponding period, due to the exclusion of the abnormal foreign exchange gain in the previous year.

The group's results for the period are due to be released on or about 17 February.

The group also announced that Sir Stuart Rose has been appointed as a director of the company, in a non-executive capacity, with effect from 19 January 2011.

"Sir Stuart brings strong international retail experience to the board. He has held a number of senior leadership roles in retail in the United Kingdom. Sir Stuart relinquished the position as Chief Executive Officer of Marks and Spencer in July 2010 and retired as its Chairman on 4 January 2011," Woolworths said.


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