Woolworths lifts full-year sales

Supermarket giant posts strong increases in total, continuing sales buoyed by performance of Aust food and liquor businesses.

Woolworths Ltd has recorded a strong lift in full-year sales, buoyed by the strength of its Australian food and liquor businesses.

In the 12 months to June 30, Woolworths' total sales from continuing operations came in at $58.516 billion, a 6.8% increase on the previous year's $54.777 billion.

Total group sales in the year were $59.158, a lift of 4.3% from $56.7 million.

The strong result was driven by a significant lift in fourth-quarter sales. In the 12 weeks to June 30, Woolworths' sales from continuing operations totalled $14.056 billion, a 12.7% increase on the $12.476 billion recorded in the previous corresponding period.

Woolworths chief executive officer Grant O'Brien said the group's progress on its program of transformation had been rewarded with strong sales in the full year.

Mr O'Brien said the group's full-year sales growth was pleasing in the face of challenging retail conditions and an economic environment underpinned by consumer uncertainty (see Cliona O'Dowd's Collected Wisdom).

"Momentum continues to increase in Australian food and liquor with comparable sales growth for the second half higher than the first half and the prior year," he said.

"The result demonstrates the benefits that have been gained from a sharpened focus on our core businesses and results from the implementation of our strategic priorities."

In the 12 months to June 30, Woolworths' Australian food and liquor sales totalled $40.031 billion, a 6.6% increase on 2012's $37.549 billion.

For the fourth quarter, Australian food and liquor sales totalled $9.598 billion, a 12.2% increase on 2012's $8.557 billion.

Hotels business lifts sales

Woolworths' hotels business also recorded a strong full-year result, driven by hotel acquisitions during the first half and the Victorian gaming regulatory changes, which came into effect in August 2012.

In the year to June 30, sales in the hotels business totalled $1.469 billion, a 22% lift on the previous year's $1.204 billion.

In the fourth quarter, hotel sales came in at $357 million, a 30.8% increase on the $273 million in the previous corresponding period.