The results are an increase of three per cent on the previous year, excluding petrol, or a decrease of 1.6 per cent, including petrol, which was impacted by changes to the Woolworths-Caltex alliance and declining fuel sell prices.
Woolworths Ltd CEO Grant O’Brien said Easter falling largely into the third quarter this year created a timing difference when compared with last year. Adjusting for the timing of Easter, third-quarter sales increased 2.3 per cent, excluding petrol.
“At the half-year 2015 results, we informed the market that Australian Food and Liquor sales in December and January were disappointing,” he said. “While February and March showed some improvement as we commenced the actions announced in February, April was more subdued and there is still much to do.”
Australian Food and Liquor sales for the quarter were $10.6 billion, an increase of 2.3 per cent on the previous year or 1.7 per cent Easter adjusted. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 0.7 per cent or 0.2 per cent Easter adjusted.
“We have continued to lower our prices for customers as reflected by deflation in average prices of 2.4 per cent for the third quarter [Q2 ’15: deflation of 1.6 per cent] when the effects of promotions and volumes are included,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The standard shelf price movement index, which excludes investment in promotional activity, increased 2.4 per cent for the quarter [Q2’15: 3.5 per cent], easing from the prior quarter as a result of lowering prices on everyday items for the benefit of our customers as well as cycling prior increases in tobacco excise.”
New store openings during the quarter included five Australian supermarkets, bringing the total to 952, one Dan Murphy’s, bringing the total to 193 and six BWS, stores bringing the total to 1,240.
New Zealand Supermarkets’ sales for the quarter were NZ$1.5 billion ($1.4 billion), an increase of five per cent on the previous year (7.7 per cent in AUD).
Petrol sales for the quarter were $1.2 billion, a decrease of 35.2 per cent on the previous year or 34.8 per cent Easter adjusted (volumes decreased 20.8 per cent or 20.2 per cent Easter adjusted), impacted by a 22 per cent reduction in average fuel sell prices (Q3 ’15: 120cpl and Q3 ’14: 153cpl) and the previously advised changes to the Woolworths/Caltex alliance, after which sales from Caltex-operated sites are no longer recognised by Woolworths.
Comparable sales (dollars) decreased 19.8 per cent or 19.3 per cent Easter adjusted, and comparable volumes decreased 1.5 per cent or 0.8 per cent Easter adjusted, showing improvement after cycling the limitations on fuel discounts at the end of January.
Strong growth in merchandise sales continued, increasing 10.3 per cent for the quarter (9.2 per cent Easter adjusted) with comparable merchandise sales increasing 7.5 per cent (6.4 per cent Easter adjusted), driven by successful tailored customer offers and more effective promotional activity.
Woolworths opened four petrol canopies during the quarter, bringing the total to 513.