Woolworths reports strong results, highlighting resilience of Group’s strategy
Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) today announced strong full-year results for the 52 weeks ended 25 June 2023.
Commenting on the results, Roy Bagattini, Woolworths Group CEO said, “It has been a transformational year for our Group. I am very pleased with the progress our teams have made in executing against our strategies, delivering a strong set of results and the highest earnings per share in the history of our Group.”
Woolworths Food delivered accelerating trading momentum and a higher GP margin, notwithstanding the challenges caused by loadshedding. Importantly, we have continued to invest not just in price, but in our overall value proposition, further strengthening the trust our customers place in our brand. Our Fashion Beauty Home (FBH) business has fundamentally shifted its trajectory, delivering above-market sales growth, and improving profitability. In line with our enhanced capital allocation framework, we have repurchased shares to a value of a further R2.9 billion during the current year, bringing the total buyback over the past two years to 6.6% of issued shares.
The disposal of David Jones is a major milestone in repositioning our Group for growth. As a result of this transaction, we have unlocked R7.7bn in value for shareholders since 2022, and more importantly, can now reallocate both our capital and management attention towards the more value-accretive initiatives across the Group’s core Woolworths and Country Road Group businesses.
Commenting on the Group’s outlook, Bagattini said, “We are confident in our ability to deliver against our strategies, notwithstanding the challenging macro backdrop. We have a robust balance sheet and a simplified Group structure post the sale of David Jones, and are well positioned to leverage our strengthened foundation to not only optimise and grow our businesses, but to permanently change the value creation profile of our Group.”
The Fashion, Beauty, and Home turnaround strategy continues to gain traction, with the business trading ahead of the market. Turnover and concession sales grew by 8.9%, and by 8.3% on a comparable store basis for the year. Price movement of 11.6% remained positively impacted by the ongoing focus on full-price sales and the continued reduction in markdowns. Net trading space was largely unchanged over the prior year. Online sales grew by 3.8% and contributed 4.3% of South African sales.
Continued focus and further improvement in full-price sales and markdown metrics supported gross profit margin gains of 90bps to 48.5%, notwithstanding inflationary supply chain and loadshedding costs. Adjusted operating profit increased by 21.3% to R1 953 million, resulting in an operating profit margin of 13.2% for the current year, compared to 11.9% in the prior year. Excluding the impact of loadshedding, adjusted operating profit grew by 24.8%, implying an operating profit margin of 13.6%.
Despite the considerable disruption caused by loadshedding, the Food business grew turnover and concession sales by 8.5% and by 6.3% on a comparable store basis for the full year. Growth accelerated to 9.4% in H2 (7.2% in comparable stores), driven by both increased footfall and improved availability. Price movement of 8.3% for the year was below underlying product inflation of 9.9%, as Woolworths continued to further enhance our overall customer value proposition. Trading space increased by 3.6% on last year. Online sales increased by 28.5% and contributed 3.8% of South African sales, supported by the further roll-out of the Woolies Dash on-demand offering.
Gross profit margin increased by 40bps to 24.4%, notwithstanding the impact of loadshedding on waste and supply chain costs, the growth in online sales, and the ongoing investment in price. Additional loadshedding-related diesel costs, coupled with higher cost inflation, resulted in expense growth of 12.4%. Adjusted operating profit grew by 2.9% to R2 976 million, returning an operating profit margin of 6.9% for the current year, compared to 7.3% in the prior year. Excluding the impact of loadshedding, adjusted operating profit grew by 9.1%, returning an operating margin of 7.3%, above our medium-term margin guidance.
The Woolworths Financial Services (WFS) book reflected a year-on-year increase of 14.5% to the end of June 2023, driven by growth in new accounts and credit card advances. The impairment rate for the 12 months ended 30 June 2023 was 7.3%, compared to 4.7% in the prior year, reflective of increased pressure on consumers in the current macroeconomic climate.
COUNTRY ROAD GROUP
Country Road Group sales grew by 12.0% and by 12.4% in comparable stores, underpinned by strong growth from the Country Road, Politix and Witchery brands. Online sales contributed 27.1% to total sales, compared to 31.6% for the prior year, while trading space reduced by 3.9% during the year.
Strong full-price sales, reduced promotional activity and supply chain efficiencies drove an increase in gross profit margin of 310bps to 62.6%. Adjusted operating profit increased by 25.6% to A$151.0 million, returning an operating profit margin of 12.4%, compared to 11.1% in the prior year.
The Board declared a total dividend of 313.0 cents for the 52 weeks ended 25 June 2023, representing a 36.4% increase on the prior year’s total dividend of 229.5 cents.
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