By Claire Reilly

Woolworths Limited – parent company of the Big W and Masters retail chains – has today announced its sales results for the full financial year to 24 June 2012, posting a 4.7 per cent increase in sales across the group.

It was a mixed bag amongst the company’s appliance and electronics retailers, with Big W posting a sales increase of just 0.5 per cent to $4.18 billion. However, Masters’ saw massive sales growth of 24.7 per cent, albeit off a lower base, climbing from $664 million up to $828 million.

In its “discontinued operations” – referring to the Australian and New Zealand Dick Smith retail chain, which is up for sale – Woolworths saw store sales increase to AUD $1.57 billion for the year, a total increase of 2.3 per cent across the two countries (or 4.3 per cent in comparable sales).

As with many other sales results releases from companies in the retail industry, Woolworths also took the opportunity to discuss its inroads in the online market.

“Multi-option remains a key focus for the Group and continues to evolve at pace with 2.3 million downloads of the Group’s apps. Highlights this quarter include the launch of the  Masters transactional website, the Supermarkets app for iPad, the BIG W lay-by app and toy sale pop-up stores.

“Total online sales, whilst still small compared to the rest of the Woolworths business, increased by 95 per cent for the year or 48 per cent excluding Cellarmasters.”

There was no mention in the release of the progress Woolworths has made with the sale of Dick Smith. However, the retailer had a strong fourth quarter with total sales up 10.4 per cent year-on-year, and comparable sales up 15.4 per cent. Woolworths took the opportunity to spruik the retailer it is trying to sell, saying the “value of the Dick Smith brand has been reinforced in the market”.

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Speaking about the group results as a whole was Woolworths Limited CEO, Grant O’Brien.

“Woolworths is pleased with the 4.7 per cent growth in its full year sales result,” he said. “The result is underpinned by continued growth in customer numbers, market share and units sold. The last quarter in particular was a stronger end to what was a challenging year.

“Retail conditions remained subdued due to consumer and business uncertainty and an unseasonably cold and wet summer period. The impact of this was exacerbated by significant deflation.

“Importantly these results have been achieved at a time when our customers are benefiting from lower prices due to strong competition and continuing deflation across our businesses. This confirms the resilience of our business as we continually adapt to the changing economic environment.  

“There is a lot of hard work ahead, but with a lot of upside as well. Despite the tough economic times, we will continue to invest in developing new stores, building our multi-option infrastructure and building new businesses like Masters, which will benefit the whole community through additional jobs and economic growth.”