Group sales down at Woolworths

Retail, entertainment wholesale and publishing businesses drop for 19 weeks to June 14th; chief exec stands down.
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Woolworths has revealed that total group sales from the combined retail and entertainment wholesale and publishing businesses for the 19 weeks to June 14th 2008 were down 1.9 per cent compared with last year.

Like-for-like sales within Woolworths Retail were broadly in line with the firm's internal expectations, down 2.2 per cent.

The firm also confirmed that it has disposed of its leasehold interests in four London stores to Waitrose for circa £25.5m.

2Entertain, the group's joint venture with BBC Worldwide, had a strong start to the year, however, with sales up 29.8 per cent, benefitting from continued good performance from Planet Earth in the US and other international markets.

Despite this, chief executive of Woolworths Group, Trevor Bish Jones will be standing down after six and a half years with the company. He will stay in his role for the next three months until a replacement is found.

"Going forward, we remain cautious about the consumer economy as we believe that the spending power of many consumers will be reduced by a number of factors including rising energy and food prices," Richard North, Woolworths' chairman, said in a statement.

"This underlines the importance of the work we are doing to improve our value credentials.

"Prospects for the entertainment and wholesale business are less driven by consumer expenditure and more influenced by the product release cycle. We see ongoing underlying strength in the computer games market, while the release roster in 2Entertain should continue to drive the business forward."


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