Woolworths today (18 April) reported to the Australian Stock Exchange a 22.7% jump in third quarter sales from continuing operations, which rose to AUD$9.669bn (US$7.144bn), confirming its full year sales and profits predictions.

Australia’s largest grocer said that food and liquor sales drove the results, which were bolstered by Woolworth’s acquisition of Foodland supermarket chain.

Woolworths CEO Roger Corbett said: “This is a strong sales result reflecting our acquisition of Foodland, BMG and Taverner in addition to solid sales growth across all of our business divisions. We continue to drive all aspects of our business and provide customers with a combination of greater convenience, freshness and quality, best range and consistently lower prices across all divisions”

Last November, the retail chain purchased Foodland’s New Zealand business and 20 former Foodland stores in Australia for AUD$2.6bn.

The company reported that sales for the supermarkets division were AUD$7.4bn for the quarter, a 23.5% increase from the same quarter of last year. During the quarter, sales from the Australian supermarket division increased by 6.2%, while New Zealand supermarkets sales increased by 3.2% over the equivalent period last year.

Easter adjusted comparable Australian store sales for Food and Liquor for the third quarter increased by 3.7%. Unadjusted for Easter, comparable sales growth for the third quarter was 3.1%.

Woolworths said that the results for the quarter were also affected by a change in the dates of school holidays in Victoria. Adjusting for this impact third quarter sales were approximately 3.9%.

Easter adjusted comparable store sales in the third quarter for New Zealand increased by 3.5%, unadjusted for Easter comparable sales growth was 3.2%

“This quarter’s sales for Australia represent a continuation of our sales momentum in a competitive market. Our focus on freshness, range, convenience, service and lower prices in our stores continues to have strong customer acceptance,” said Michael Luscombe, director of supermarkets.

Woolworths opened two new supermarkets and three new Dan Murphy stores during the quarter. Twenty-seven freestanding liquor stores were added from the acquisition of Taverner as of 6 February 2006. These liquor stores are currently in the process of being rebranded, the company said.