Retail business deepens losses at Woolworths

With the losses mounting at Woolworths, the retailer says it is now looking to its entertainment businesses to help turn around the faltering retail operation.
Today’s release of results for the 26 weeks to August 2 showed that compared to the first half of 2007/8 group sales fell 3.0% to £1,107.0m, while Woolworths Retail like-for-like sales were down 3.2%. Pre-tax loss rose to £99.7m from £63.8m.

Chairman Richard North commented: “”For the first half of the year EUK and 2 entertain are performing ahead of our expectations, while Woolworths Retail manifestly is not. However, the board believes that the strength of our entertainment businesses provides a solid platform of profitability from which the turnaround of the retail business can be based.”

Steve Johnson, appointed chief executive at the beginning of September, is now undertaking a strategic review of Woolworths Retail.

“I took this job because I’m convinced that there is space on the high street for a successful home-based variety store offering great value and convenience,” he said. “My first weeks in the job have only reinforced that view and shown me that Woolworths has a core of strong, profitable stores, a great retail brand and many very committed people who want to succeed.

“Right now, this business does not require lots of new strategic initiatives, it requires a good dose of basic shop keeping and attention to the detail of retailing.”

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