Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths

Woolworths’ NZ supermarkets business, which includes Countdown and Progressive Enterprises’ franchise businesses SuperValue and FreshChoice, has grown 1.6 percent from last year to $3.2 billion. While comparable sales for the half were flat, they increased 1.1 percent excluding bulk gift card sales.

The Australian company has announced its earning results for HY17. Countdown's earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) dropped 4.5 percent year-on-year to $163 million due to costs associated with the new Onecard partnership with AA Smartfuel, Countdown’s investment in more hours in stores, expenses related to the November earthquake (not all of which were covered by insurance) and the cycling of bulk gift card sales.

In the half, Countdown’s food price index saw a 0.2 percent deflation in, driven by reduced inflation in seasonal produce and lower prices in grocery, with over 3,400 items now being part of the Price Down programme.

A few initiatives were launched last year to improve the lives of Countdown’s staff and the community at large—the new family violence policy, the launch of Health and Nutrition targets, a contestable fund for Countdown’s food rescue charity partners and the roll-out of new recyclable meat trays.

“Our customer satisfaction scores are continuing to rise, and we’re very pleased with how the year is tracking at the half,” said Dave Chambers, managing director, Progressive Enterprises.

In Australia, Woolworths enjoyed a comparable sales growth of 1.9 percent in HY and 3.1 percent in Q217. The company has also renewed 26 stores and completed 41 front-end upgrades, and moving forward plans to focus more on its team and supplier engagement, as well as unlocking productivity improvements.

“While we expect trading conditions to remain competitive for the remainder of FY17, we are focused on building the sales momentum we have achieved over the last six months as we work to restore sustainable growth in Australian Food,” said Woolworths CEO, Brad Banducci.