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Woolworths profit lifts

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Woolworths lifted its first half profit 14.5 per cent amid solid sales growth from its core supermarkets business.

The retail giant made a net profit of $1.32 billion for the six months to December 31, up from $1.15 billion a year ago.

Chief executive Grant O’Brien said the company’s core Australian food and liquor business, which includes supermarkets and liquor outlets including Dan Murphy’s and BWS, had performed well over the half.

“We have delivered 6.8 per cent EBIT growth in our Australian Food and Liquor business, consistent with our priority to extend our leadership in Food and Liquor, which has been achieved in a highly competitive marketplace,” he said.

The company has lifted its full year guidance slightly, and now expects net profit growth of between five and seven per cent for 2013/14.

But the rollout of the company’s home improvement business Masters continues to drag on the company, making a $72 million loss for the half, compared to a $70 million loss the previous year.

However, sales from the business, including timber and hardware, were up 25 per cent and the company reiterated its forecast for Masters to break even during the 2016 financial year.

Total group revenue was up six per cent to $32 billion during the half.

The company announced a fully-franked interim dividend of 65 cents per share, up from 62 cents a year ago.

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