By Grant Shepherd
At the Woolworths Limited annual general meeting, CEO Michael Luscombe has outlined the strong performance of the entire company’s retail stores and how they have taken advantage of the economic downturn.
According to the release issued to the ASX, Woolworths as a whole had sales of $49.6 billion for FY09, which is up 7.5 per cent on 2008 and an 8.5 per cent growth if you exclude petrol. Big W performed just as strongly with sales of $4.26 billion which is an increase of 10.5 per cent and consumer electronics for Australia and New Zealand, which encompasses the Dick Smith brand, grew 9.6 per cent to $1.53 billion.
Luscombe discussed how the downturn in the economy has changed the spending habits of consumers and how this has benefited his organisation.
“We believe many customers have actually learned some lessons about how to manage their income more effectively and the quest to extract the best possible value will continue for some time to come,” he said.
“As a low geared, cost focused organisation, Woolworths entered the GFC in a very strong position and with strong customer support we are exiting it in an equally strong state.”
Luscombe also said that it was the company’s continued investment in job creation and store development that helped Woolworths prosper.
“As a company, we continued our community investment, created many thousands of new jobs and pressed ahead with new store developments, refurbishments and other important initiatives,” he said.
“Our sense of optimism and our desire to make a positive contribution to Australia’s economic future are more fervent than ever – not just at a corporate level but in every store that we operate, in every community. We will continue to do our upmost to deliver the best possible value to our customers, our shareholders and our suppliers.”
Luscombe thanked his hard working staff and their continued effort to help the company grow.
“In spite of these challenges, our hardworking team succeeded in keeping their eyes well and truly on the ball. Our growth plans continued unabated and we maintained forward momentum in all our divisions,” he said.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank over 191,000 hard working men and women of Woolworths in every corner of Australia and New Zealand who contributed to our result and in doing so, helped us weather the storm. I am very proud of your efforts.”