Woolworths has announced its first quarter sales results with group sales of $17.9bn, up 12.3 per cent on the same quarter last year.
CEO Brad Banducci called out a strong performance from Endeavour Drinks, which saw a 21.4 per cent sales increase on the prior corresponding period.
Banducci said: “It has been a pleasing start to F21 with all retail businesses delivering strong sales growth and customer metrics remaining solid.
“COVID costs remain material as we continue to prioritise the safety of our customers and team but have moderated as we become more efficient at operating COVIDSafe. During the quarter 85 ALH venues were closed in Victoria and will reopen on 9 November.
“Endeavour Drinks has continued to perform strongly. Despite the Victorian closures, Hotels was profitable in Q1 but materially down on last year. For the rest of the calendar year, we expect elevated sales and costs to continue as customers spend more time at home, continue to embrace eCommerce and we ensure our stores and DCs remain COVIDSafe.
“Christmas is only 50 days away and it will be very different to previous years; however, we have worked hard as a team to ensure that all Woolworths Group businesses provide our customers with the opportunity to celebrate the spirit of Christmas in an enjoyable, affordable and COVIDSafe way.”
In highlighting the performance of Endeavour Drinks, the report said that total sales increased 21.4 per cent in the quarter to $2.65bn with monthly growth moderating over the quarter.
Overall the group said that its sales growth is being driven by an increase in customer transactions with items per basket broadly flat.
Spirits is the fastest growing category in both Dan’s and BWS, which the group said was led by the continued popularity of gin. Wine sales remain strong driven by premium wines and strong growth in Pinnacle brands, particularly in Dan Murphy’s. Beer sales benefitted from continued Craft Beer growth.
Digital and eCommerce sales increased by 57.6 per cent compared to last year, driven by higher traffic and conversion rates which offset a decline in average order value.
During the quarter, 10 BWS stores were opened, and five stores were closed ending the quarter with 1,374 stores. Dan Murphy’s store network ended the quarter with 242 stores following the opening of one new store in the period.
Hotels continued to be impacted by closures in Victoria and operating restrictions in other states with total sales declining by 33.2 per cent to $313m. Sales growth was broadly consistent over the quarter but slowed marginally in August and September.
Across the country, 247 hotels were open at the end of the quarter, three were closed for refurbishment and redevelopment and 80 venues and five managed clubs in Victoria were closed.