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Woolworths sales strong during COVID

Supermarket giant Woolworths has posted a near 16 per cent jump in profits in the first six months of its financial year, aided by soaring online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Releasing its half-year result on Wednesday, it said sales growth was strong across the group with the exception of its hotels division, while Christmas trading was at a record.

“I am incredibly proud of the achievements of our team during the half,” Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said.

“The first half of F21 continued to be impacted by COVID, with elevated sales and higher costs as we worked to maintain a COVIDSafe environment for our customers and team.”

He remains confident its businesses are well positioned for the remainder of this financial year and beyond.

Net profit after tax was 15.9 per cent higher at $1.1 billion with group sales rising 10.6 per cent to $35.8 billion and eCommerce sales surging 77.9 per cent to $2.8 billion.

Its Australian food, Big W and Endeavour Drinks divisions all reported sales growth well above trend.

Mr Banducci said its discount Big W stores were a particular highlight with earnings before interest and taxes of $133 million, up 166 per cent on the prior year.

“Sales growth in New Zealand Food slowed in Q2 with lower market growth rates impacted by a reduction in international tourism,” Mr Banducci said.

“In hotels, sales trends improved over the half but growth was below the prior year due to continued COVID-related operating restrictions.”

The Woolworths board declared a dividend of 53 cents per share, up 15.2 per cent on the prior year.

Woolworths shares were up 10 cents or 0.26 per cent at $39.19.

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