Woolworths reports strong third quarter

The retailers’ continued focus on customer experience is driving solid sales growth, with the Australian food division reporting a sales increase of 4.7 per cent to $9.6 billion in the third quarter.

Comparable sales increased by 4.4 per cent, benefitting from the shift in the timing of Easter compared to the same quarter in the prior year, with Easter-adjusted comparable sales increasing by four per cent. Woolworths says growth was driven by comparable transactions with items per basket flat on the prior year, largely due to the shift in New Year’s Day timing.

Woolworths’ voice-of-customer (VOC) scores remained strong, with overall customer satisfaction of 81 per cent consistent with pre-Christmas highs and store-controllable VOC of 84 per cent. Both measures improved significantly compared to Q3’17, driven by improvements in availability, and fruit and vegetables. Woolworths says store-controllable VOC now includes an additional measure, ‘ease of pick-up’, reflecting the increasing importance of pick-up to customers. It says ease of pick-up VOC has rapidly improved since the national rollout in the first half.

Online sales in Australian food continue to grow strongly at around 30 per cent, benefitting from strategic digital initiatives delivered throughout the year, such as the national rollout of pick-up.

“We are pleased with the progress we are continuing to make against our key priorities as we pivot from turnaround to transformation,” Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said. “We remain energised by the number of opportunities we see to continue to improve our business.

“Our focus for the remainder of FY18 is on delivering consistently good shopping experiences across all stores and days of the week, embedding current strategic initiatives including ‘simpler for stores’ and continuing to improve our digital experience.”

The quarter ended with 1,007 supermarkets and Metro stores. One Metro was opened, two supermarkets closed and six renewals and 20 upgrades completed during the quarter.

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