Woolworths to open stores across its portfolio of retail banners

Woolworths to open stores across its portfolio of retail banners

Woolworths Ltd, Australia's largest supermarket group, has said that it plans to open 108 new stores during fiscal 2014.

The company said that it would open outlets across its supermarket, forecourt, drink retail brands and general merchandise stores.

The move will create 6,981 new jobs and supports its "generation success" youth employment scheme, Woolworths said. The company did not reveal how much it will invest in the store openings. 

Last week Coles, Australia's second largest retailer, said that it will open 70 stores over the next three years, creating 8,000 new store roles.

Competition has increased between Woolworths and Coles, with the latter narrowing the gap in market share in recent years.

At the end of 2013, Coles' share of the Australian grocery sector stood at 33.5%, compared to Woolworths' 39%, according to local industry analysts Roy Market Research. The analysts said Coles had narrowed the gap to Woolworths and had seen its market share grow to its highest level since March 2008.

Shares in Woolworths edged up 1.07% to close at A$36.84 (US$33.40) on the ASX.