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Woolworths loses $3.25 billion on Masters failure

Business

Woolworths has been dragged to total $2.09 billion first half loss after taking a $3.25 billion hit from its ill-fated Masters home improvement stores.

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The company, which has concluded its eight-month search for a chief executive with the immediate promotion of Brad Banducci to the role, revealed the huge one-off impairment in its first half results released on Friday.

The loss attributable to equity holders was $972.7 million.

Woolworths in January announced it was closing its loss-making Masters stores, which had failed to challenge the dominant Bunnings chain owned by rival Wesfarmers.

“The decision to exit home improvement will allow Woolworths to focus its energy and resources on strengthening and executing its plans in its core businesses,” chairman Gordon Cairns said.

Without the impairment, Woolworths still would have reported a fall in first half profit from $1.28 billion for the same period a year earlier.

Revenue from Australian food, liquor and petrol declined 2.58 per cent to $24.96 billion.

Banducci will now be tasked with leading the company’s revival, although he will continue to fill his former role of managing director of Woolworths Food Group until a replacement is found.

Woolworths had been looking for a chief executive since June, when Grant O’Brien said he was quitting.

“We undertook a rigorous international search process to find the best person to rebuild the Woolworths business and return it to sustainable growth,” Cairns said.

“While there were several strong candidates, the board was unanimous that Brad was the strongest of the field.”
WOOLWORTH’S FIRST HALF WOES

* Total net loss of $2.09bn vs $1.28bn profit 1H15

* Net loss attributable to equity holders, of $972.7m

* Revenue down 1pct to $32.1bn

* $3.25bn pre-tax impairment from Masters exit

* Interim dividend cut from 67 to 44 cents per share, fully franked.

AAP

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