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Countdown sales up 2.1pc in March quarter

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/05/2017 Paul McBeth

ASX-listed Woolworths Group's New Zealand supermarket chain Countdown increased sales 2.1 per cent in the March quarter as it benefited from rising prices and its tie-up with the AA Smartfuel loyalty scheme.

Sales rose to $1.59 billion in the 13 weeks ended April 2 from $1.56b a year earlier, the Sydney-based company said in a statement.

Adjusting for Easter, sales were up 2.2 per cent, and in Australian dollar terms rose 4.3 per cent.

Countdown's supermarkets food price index rose 0.8 per cent in the period on more expensive dairy products and as fresh produce coincided with later Easter promotions.

Sales growth was driven by price, service and local product supply, as well as the Onecard loyalty programme and AA Smartfuel, launched in in the second quarter, the company said.

Government data show New Zealand credit and debit card spending on consumables rose 4.7 per cent to $21.69b in the year ended March 31, while grocery food prices rose 2.2 per cent over the same period.

Woolworths opened two Countdown stores in New Zealand in the quarter, one of which was a reopening, and closed two more, ending the period with 183 shops.

The Australasian group's sales from continuing operations rose 3.7 per cent to A$13.81 billion, led by a 5.1 per cent gain in sales from its dominant Australian food business.

The New Zealand clothing and homeware retailer EziBuy, which is up for sale, posted a 5.4 per cent drop in sales to A$35 million.

Group chief executive Brad Banducci said the retailer's new strategy was still in its early stages and that the second half's results will "reflect the financial impact of higher investment in key areas, cost price increases (particularly in meat and produce) and our response to ongoing competition and promotional intensity".

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