South African retailer Woolworths Holdings has reported a near-12% rise in half-year underlying food sales.

Woolworths, seen as an upmarket retailer in South Africa, said food sales in comparable stores were up 11.8% in the 26 weeks to 29 December.

The retailer said comparable-store clothing sales increased 10.7%. General merchandise comparable-store sales rose 5.1%. The company did not provide a figure for its total sales.

Woolworths is due to report its full results for the first half of its financial year next month.

At the end of June last year, Woolworths had 366 food stores, including 49 Engen convenience stores and 20 outlets outside South Africa.

In an analyst presentation in August, it forecast it would have 385 food stores, including 66 Engen c-stores. Woolworths said its food stores outside South Africa would hold steady at 20.

In November, Woolworths announced the closure of its three non-food stores in Nigeria.

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WHL: WOOLWORTHS HOLDINGS LIMITED - Trading update: 26 weeks to 29 December 2013

WHL: WOOLWORTHS HOLDINGS LIMITED - Trading update:  26 weeks to 29 December 2013

Trading update:  26 weeks to 29 December 2013

Woolworths Holdings Limited

(Incorporated in the Republic of South Africa)

Registration number 1929/001986/06

Share code: WHL

ISIN: ZAE000063863

("the Group")


Clothing sales in South Africa increased by 10.7% for the first 26 weeks of the 2014 financial year over the comparable 26 week period in 2013, with price movement of 5.0%. Sales in comparable stores grew by 8.8%. Retail space including stores in the rest of Africa, grew by 4.2% (net of closures) since December 2012.

Food sales grew by 15.3% with a price movement of 7.2%. Sales in comparable stores grew by 11.8%. Retail space including stores in the rest of Africa grew by 5.9% (net of closures) since December 2012.

General merchandise grew by 6.9% and by 5.1% in comparable stores.

Woolworths stores were closed on 15 December for the funeral of Nelson Mandela. Sales in Australia and New Zealand, including the Witchery group, increased by 28.9%, in Australian dollar terms. Sales in comparable stores increased by 5.5% and net space, excluding the Witchery group acquisition, grew 4.2%. Country Road´s South African sales are included in the South African clothing figures. 

The Woolworths Financial Services debtors´ book reflected year on year growth of 13.8% at the end of December 2013, with the annualised impairment rate, inclusive of collection costs, for the six months to December 2013 at 4.3% (six months to December 2012: 2.7% restated to include collection costs).

Shareholders are advised that the financial information contained in this announcement has not been audited, reviewed or reported upon by the Group´s external auditors.

The Group´s interim results for the 26 week period to 29 December 2013 are scheduled to be announced on or about 13 February 2014.

Original source: Woolworths Holdings