Woolworths has outpaced rival Coles’ sales growth for a sixth consecutive quarter.
Comparable food sales at Woolworths’ Australian supermarkets grew four per cent to $9.57 billion for the 13 weeks to April 1, after adjusting figures for the timing of Easter.
It exceeds Coles’ 1.3 per cent like-for-like third-quarter growth but has slightly missed Citi Group’s expectations of 4.5 per cent like-for-like growth, adjusted for Easter.
Investors were impressed, driving Woolworths shares up 23 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $27.95 at 1033 AEST.
For the past year and a half, Woolworths’ quarterly sales have been surpassing Coles after it spent many years in the shadow of the Wesfarmers-owned supermarket chain.
Chief executive Brad Banducci said the progress was pleasing and the business was now shifting from turnaround phase to transformation.
“We remain energised by the number of opportunities we see to continue to improve our business,” Mr Banducci said.
Woolworths said average prices declined 1.3 per cent compared to the same quarter in the prior year with sharply lower prices for fruit and vegetables, particularly for tomatoes and grapes.
Excluding fruit, vegetables and tobacco, average prices at Woolworths supermarkets were about 2.4 per cent lower.
Elsewhere in the group, comparable sales from BWS and Dan Murphy’s liquor stores grew 3.3 per cent on an Easter-adjusted basis.
Discount department store chain Big W reported a 1.2 per cent decline in like-for-like sales and the group’s hotels and poker machines business reported 3.9 per cent lift in comparable sales, both Easter-adjusted.
Woolworths petrol sales for the quarter of $1.2 billion were largely in line with the prior year and the group’s total comparable sales from continuing operations grew 3.6 per cent to $14.24 billion.
WOOLIES’ EASTER-ADJUSTED Q3 FIGURES
* Australian food comparable sales up 4.0pct to $9.571b
* Australian liquor comparable sales up 3.3pct $2.004b
* NZ comparable food sales up 3.8pct to $1.509b
* Total sales from continuing operations up 3.6pct to $14.24b