JSE-listed food and clothing retailer Woolworths Holdings announced an overall 20% increase in sales for the six months to December 2002, with food sales rising 25.2% in that period.

Overall sales from comparable stores grew by 15.8% while food sales grew by 18.1% from comparable stores.

Textile sales grew by 15.8% overall and by 12.3% in comparable stores, the company said in a trading statement.

During the first quarter, recorded sales were stronger but remained at acceptable levels in the second quarter and over the Christmas period.

Across the Indian Ocean, Woolworths Country Road chain in Australia ended the six-month period to December with a 3.3% increase in Australian dollar terms, which was in line with that market and with the company’s expectations.

Trading conditions for the six months were competitive, with considerable discounting and promotional activity from major department stores, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

The company’s interim results for the six months to December will be published in mid-February.