Woolworth’s four key strategic goals, which were laid out 12 months ago, are beginning to pay off with the company off to a good start.

The company had reported in its September quarter total group sales were up 4.3 per cent from the previous year from $14.6 million to $15.2 million.

“I have been pleased with the start of the 2013 financial year and our guidance remains unchanged despite the instability of consumer confidence and some uncertainty in global financial markets,” Grant O’Brien, Woolworths CEO, said at the company’s annual general meeting.

The company’s four step plan included extending its leadership in food and liquor, maximising shareholder value in its portfolio, maintaining its record of building new growth business and putting in place the enablers for a new area of growth.

“For the 2012 financial year, I am pleased to report a solid increase in net profit after tax from continuing operations of 3.6 per cent. Of course, when we include the write down we took in our discontinued consumer electronics division we reported a decline in net profit after tax of 14.5 per cent,” O’Brien said.

“Despite continuing tough retail conditions and low consumer confidence, sales from continuing operations grew by 4.8 per cent. This is a result underpinned by gains in customer numbers, market share and units.

“Our divisions performed well across the board. Our Australian food and liquor business delivered an increase in gross margin which underlines the fact that efficiency and cost management remains at the heart of our operations. It also highlights a significant focus on shrinkage improvement, improvements in buying, and the roll out of new store formats. Much of the benefits received from these initiatives have been reinvested in price reductions of our customers.”