By James Atkinson

Woolworths opened 14 Dan Murphy's stores during the first half of the 2011-12 financial year, and its liquor business experienced another quarter of strong growth across all brands, the company said.

Woolworths' Australian Food and Liquor sales for the half year to January 1, 2012 were $19.6 billion, an increase of $0.8 billion or 4.3 per cent on last year. Sales for the second quarter were $9.9 billion, an increase of 4.1 per cent.

Comparable store sales in Australian Food and Liquor for the half year increased 1.5 per cent, the company said, and 1.1 per cent for the second quarter.

Woolworths director of liquor, Steve Greentree said the Dan Murphy's and BWS brands were particularly strong, "gaining further market share despite increased competitor activity around the Christmas period".

"Our multichannel business in Cellarmasters and Dan Murphy's had an outstanding quarter as customers switch between in-store and online," he added.

Woolworths announced first half sales of $29.7 billion overall, a 5 per cent increase.

The company plans to open six more Dan Murphy's stores in the 2012 financial year.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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