Woolworths continues to run second after Coles following the release of the grocery giant’s first half year sales results for the 2013 financial year.

The company reported total group first half year sales were up 3.2 per cent to $30.7 billion.

“This solid first half result is a reflection of the sharpened focus on our core businesses and better meeting our customers’ needs. The growth our businesses are achieving while pursuing a transformational path for Woolworths is pleasing. However, there is still a great deal more to do,” CEO Grant O’Brien said.

The company’s supermarket division reported a 3.7 per cent increase to $26.2 billion. According to O’Brien, the grocer continues to increase market share, customer numbers, basket size and items sold.

“Effective promotional activities, leveraging our growing customer data capabilities and the return to inflation in produce have assisted this result,” he said.

At the same time, Big W experienced a 3.6 per cent lift. This was due to a strong Christmas campaign. But the results were impacted by continued declines in the consumer electronics category and by ongoing deflation across the business.

Meanwhile results for its home improvement category continue to soar to 54.6 per cent. The results include sales from the first 25 Masters stores, 10 of which opened during the half.

As a result, the company expects net profit after tax from continuing operations for the financial year of 2012 to grow in the range of 3 per cent to 5 per cent.