By James Atkinson

Woolworths' underlying liquor sales growth was in line with the 4.8 per cent overall growth achieved by its food and liquor business last quarter, the retailer reported.

Woolworths Australian Food and Liquor sales for the second quarter ended December 30, 2012 were $10.3 billion, an increase of 4.8 per cent on the previous year. The division's sales for the half year were $20.5 billion, an increase of $0.9 billion or 4.7 per cent on the previous year.

While liquor continues to drag on rival Coles' results, it's a different story at Woolworths, according to CEO Grant O'Brien.

"The effect that liquor had on the overall result [sales growth] was negligible; if it was significant I'd call it out," O'Brien told analysts yesterday.

Woolworths opened 11 Dan Murphy's stores during the half year, taking the total to 170. The retailer expects to open a further five Dan Murphy's in the 2013 financial year.

Woolworths director of liquor, Brad Banducci said: "Our Liquor business continues to generate strong positive growth momentum with sales growth experienced across all three formats – Dan Murphy's, Convenience (BWS and Woolworths Liquor) and Direct (Cellarmasters and Langton's)."

"Growth has been assisted by store openings and our continued investment in multi-option."

Comparable store sales in Australian Food and Liquor for the half year increased 2.4 per cent and for the second quarter increased 2.5 per cent.

The Shout Team

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

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