By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Woolworths released its first quarter sales results today for the 14 weeks to September with the highlights being an 8.9 per cent increase in group sales to $11.7 billion and a 10.5 per cent increase in consumer electronics sales.

“The strong momentum continues in all our businesses,” Woolworths’ managing director and chief executive officer, Michael Luscombe announced in a statement today.

“We have maintained the strong momentum in all our businesses. Particularly pleasing are the excellent results from BIG W and New Zealand Supermarkets,” said Luscombe.

According to a report released to the Australian Stock Exchange, Woolworth’s Australian and New Zealand consumer electronics division, which includes Dick Smith, Tandy and Powerhouse, returned sales for the quarter of $347 million, up from $314 million over the corresponding period last year.

The report explained that comparable store sales increased by 6.1 per cent in contrast to the quarter one 2007 increase of 6.8 per cent. Woolworths stated that this year’s figure was “slightly softer than expected due to the timing of the launch of the new iPod range.”

In terms of the overall business, Luscombe was predicting further modest growth.

“Whilst we are pleased with the momentum in the business, we are mindful that discretionary spending continues to be influenced by macro-economic factors such as fluctuating petrol prices and interest rate rises,” said Luscombe.

“We maintain our sales outlook for the full year where we expect sales from continuing operations to grow in the range of seven per cent to 10 per cent.”