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Woolworths slips to $1.235bn loss

Business

Woolworths has slipped to a $1.235 billion full-year loss after a big decline in earnings from its Australian food and drink business and more than $2.6 billion of writedowns.

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The supermarket giant slashed its final dividend after slipping from last year’s $2.146 billion profit on $2.628 billion of writedowns mostly related to its ongoing exit from the hardware sector and its underperforming Big W stores.

The drop was compounded by a 40.8 per cent decline in underlying earnings before interest and tax from Australian food and petrol to $1.76 billion for the 52 weeks to June 26.

“Sales improved over the year for our Australian Food business with comparable sales in the fourth quarter the strongest for the year, driven by strong comparable transaction growth,” Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said.

“However, underlying earnings from Australian Food and Petrol were down 40.8 per cent on last year, reflecting lower sales growth driven primarily by our investment in lower prices and a decline in items per basket.”

Woolworths, which slashed its dividend from 72 cents a year ago to 33 cents, made $1.873 billion of writedowns against its failed hardware businesses, which it will be rid of by December.

Yesterday, it said it had agreed to sell its Home Timber & Hardware business to Metcash for $165 million by October, and would close all its Masters stores by early December.

-AAP

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