Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) today announced its full year results for the 52 weeks ended 28 June 2020. The year was characterised by the disruption of COVID-19 which significantly impacted the performance of the Group during the second half of the year. For the full year, Group sales were flat compared to the prior year, adjusted profit before tax was down 46% to R2.5bn and headline earnings per share (HEPS) decreased by 64.8% to 116.2cps.
The Group had an exceptionally challenging year given the impacts of the pandemic. Roy Bagattini, WHL Group CEO, said, “Our primary focus during this period has been on the health and wellness of our people, the safety our customers and protecting the jobs of all our employees. The challenges posed by the crisis galvanised our teams to work together as we successfully implemented numerous initiatives to stabilise our operations and cash flows and strengthen our balance sheet. It is imperative though, that we to actively learn from this crisis and reassess our strategies, particularly in the context of a fast-evolving customer shopping ecosystem where we’re seeing an accelerated shift to online and accentuated levels of digital engagement with our customers”.
The SA Food business achieved an exceptional performance delivering market share gains for the ninth consecutive year. This strength and robustness is the result of years of focused investment and deep commitment towards building a truly world-class food proposition and experience for our customers. “The trust in the Woolworths brand has remained steadfast and has further strengthened during this period,” adds Bagattini.
Turnover and concession sales grew by 13.3% in the second half with full year growth at 10.7%. This was achieved notwithstanding the constrained environment, restrictions on trade of hot food counters, wine alcoves and WCafe business, in addition to the intermittent closure of specific stores due to COVID-19 disruptions. Online food sales grew by 87.8% in the second half of the year and by 57.2% for the year. Operating profit increased by 19.0%, returning an operating margin of 7.7%.
Fashion Beauty and Home performance in the second half of the year was severely impacted by the closure of stores and lockdown related restrictions on trade. Since the re-opening of stores in May, trade was focused on promotional and clearance activity to drive sales and reduce inventory levels. Sales in the second half of the year declined by 24.1%, ending the year 10.7% down on last year. Online FBH sales grew by 41.3% in the second half of the year and by 35.4% for the year. Operating profit decreased by 59.5%, resulting in an operating margin of 5.5%.
The Woolworths Financial Services book grew by 2% year-on-year and by 9% at 31 March 2020, highlighting the significant drop off in the fourth quarter. The results reflected the negative impact of lower book and revenue growth, lower interest rates, the closure of stores, and by a higher impairment charge arising from lower collections. The impairment rate for the 12 months ended 28 June 2020 was 7.9%, compared to a rate of 4.2% for the 9 months ended 31 March 2020 and 3.7% for the 12 months ended 30 June 2019.
While most David Jones stores continued trading during the second half of the year, there was a significant decline in footfall, which began earlier in the half, with the Australian bush fires and the Covid pandemic. Turnover and concession sales declined by 17.2% in the second half of the year, ending the year 6.4% below the prior year. The decline in store sales was partly mitigated by the shift to online, which grew by 100.7% in H2, contributing 18.4% to sales. The completion of the Elizabeth Street store redevelopment in April contributed positively to the uplift in sales in the latter part of the half with performance ahead of expectations.
COUNTRY ROAD GROUP
Country Road Group stores were closed for most of the fourth quarter, with a phased re-opening of stores from 21 May 2020. While the recovery of CBD stores was subdued, CRG’s further operational focus online and greater pivot to loyalty programmes and digital customer engagement, partially offset the pandemic’s impacts on the store network. Online sales grew by 28.1% in H2, contributing 33.5% of total sales. Total sales in the second half declined by 25.6%, ending the year down 14.3% on the prior year. Operating profit decreased by 60.0%, resulting in an operating margin of 4.3%.
As advised previously, the Board believes that it is in the best interest of the Group to suspend distributions to shareholders, until such time as the situation arising from COVID-19 stabilises. The Group has not declared a final dividend for the 2020 financial year.
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