Australian retailer Woolworths today (27 November) reaffirmed its sales and profit forecast for its current fiscal year as its CEO said the company was "somewhat shielded" from the economic downturn.

Michael Luscombe told the company's AGM that it expects sales to grow "in the upper single digits" during the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

Woolworths has forecast EBIT to grow faster than sales, while it sees net profit after tax to rise by 9-12% on a 52- versus 53-week basis and by 11-14% on a 52-week comparative basis.

"Clearly, there are a number of macro-economic factors currently affecting the economy. This makes it difficult to predict how consumers will react and the impact this will have on discretionary spending," Luscombe said.

"Of course, Woolworths is in the business of consumer staples such as food, everyday needs, liquor and petrol. And, whilst no-one can ever be totally immune, we are somewhat shielded from any potential downturn."