By Claire Reilly

Woolworths Limited released its third quarter sales results for the 13 weeks ended 1 April 2012 last week, reporting an increase in total group sales of 3.8 per cent, to just over $14 billion. While most of the company’s divisions saw modest improvements, Masters was once again the stand out of the group, posting a staggering 29.4 per cent increase in sales, from $163 million to $211 million, year-on-year.

Big W saw modest sales growth of 1.4 per cent in the quarter, up to $931 million. Speaking about the figures, director of Big W Julie Coates said, “The continued growth in customer numbers and items sold were pleasing.

“This is evidence of Big W’s strong value proposition – offering the lowest prices on the widest range of quality and branded merchandise every day,” she said.

Dick Smith, which is classified as a “discontinued operation” under the sales report, saw a 1.7 per cent decrease in sales, from $301 million in 2011 to $296 million in 2012. The company provided no further commentary on the retailer’s performance, aside from straight sales results.

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However, it was a different story for Masters. Woolworths’ CEO of home improvement, Don Stallings, said he was pleased with the retailer's results, which encompassed sales from the its first ten stores, three of which were opened in the third quarter.

“Trading in our new Masters stores continues to deliver positive results,” he said. “Feedback from customers is overwhelmingly positive and we are excited about our future pipeline of stores and the opportunity to make the Masters offer available to more Australians.”

The company announced that it would be launching a “Masters Home Improvement transactional website” in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, as part of Woolworths’ new “multi-option offer”.

“The online component of our multi-option growth strategy continues to progress at pace and remains a key focus," the results report read. "Our latest additions and enhancements include, the Supermarkets mobile shopping app, a virtual shopping wall, the Big W mobile app, click then collect trials and a new generation supermarket online platform.

“These allow us to further tailor our product and service offerings to the individual needs of our customers, providing each with an enhanced shopping experience. They have contributed total online sales growth for the quarter of 108 per cent (or 45 per cent excluding Cellarmasters).”