Big W lifts sales for Woolies

Woolworths' first quarter sales have increased by 4.3 per cent to more than $15 billion.

The retail giant posted sales growth in its food and liquor divisions in the 14 weeks to September 30, compared to the same period in the previous year.

The result has failed to excite investors who have sent the company's shares down 7 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $29.09.

Sales were also higher in its Big W, hotels and home improvement businesses, but petrol sales fell.

Total sales in the quarter to the end of September of $15.2 billion was up from $14.6 billion in the previous corresponding period.

"This was a pleasing start to the year with momentum created towards the end of the last financial year continuing through the first quarter," chief executive Grant O'Brien said in a statement.


"While we have made progress against our strategic priorities, there is still a great deal to do in our business transformation programs."

Food and liquor

Woolworths’ food and liquor business increased its market share in the first quarter of the financial year, as well as customer numbers and items sold, Mr O’Brien said.

That growth was driven by promotions and specials, he said.

Woolworths supermarkets served, on average, 19.6 million customers per week, up 4.6 per cent on the same period in the previous year.

Average prices fell by 2.8 per cent in the quarter, compared to deflation of 4.3 per cent in the previous corresponding period.Petrol prices and volumes also fell.

Big W’s sales increase was driven by higher customer numbers and a rise in the number of items sold.

Sales of $1.1 billion in the first quarter were up 6.2 per cent on the same period in the previous year.

Woolworths-owned hotels posted a 17.3 per cent rise in sales in the first quarter, on growing bar and food sales and the positive impact of gaming regulation changes in Victoria from August 16, the company said.

Woolworths opened 32 new hotels in the 14 weeks to September 30, taking its total number of venues to 325.

In home improvement, Woolworths’ new Masters franchise opened seven new stores, taking the total to 22. The business generated $305 million in sales in the first quarter, up 62 per cent on the same period in the previous year.