Australia’s Woolworths sees 33% fall in profits

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Australia’s biggest supermarket chain Woolworths has posted a 33.1% fall in profits for the six months to December.

The firm, which has interests spanning hotels, petrol and discount liquor, said net profit had come to 925.8m Australian dollars ($670m; £479.7m) for the period compared to a year earlier.

Including write-downs however the supermarket said it had reported a record year-on-year net loss of A$972.7m, a fall of 176%.

Shares fell 5% on the news.

Its Sydney-listed shares had recovered some ground later to be down 2.5%.

The company has been facing stiff competition from discount rivals and is in the process of rebuilding its business.

It said the latest result was a reflection of the significant changes it was going through.

The Australian giant also said its half-yearly result had been “heavily impacted by the decision taken to exit the home improvement business”, among other issues.

“Australian food, liquor and petrol reported a decrease in earnings before interest and tax of 31.7%”, the company said.

‘Much to do’

Woolworths said it was shifting focus to its supermarket business so that it could compete “vigorously” against its rivals and improve its customer service.

On Friday it also announced it had appointed a new chief executive and managing director, Brad Banducci, who has been with the company for five years.

The supermarket’s chairman, Gordon Cairns, said Mr Banducci had been managing the turnaround of the firm’s supermarkets business for the last 12 months and that he had led its liquor brand Dan Murphy’s “to become one of Australia’s great retailers”.

But Mr Cairns said there was much to do in order to see Woolworths’ results improve and that it would be a “three to five year journey” to rebuild the business.

 

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