Wednesday 16th July 2008
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New Zealand supermarket sales fell 6.1% in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, after adjusting to reflect the impact of Easter, Woolworths said in a statement. Sales were A$947 million in the latest 13 weeks, it said.
Sales reflected "the tighter macroeconomic environment in New Zealand and a decline in the growth of the overall market in the fourth quarter," the company said.
Consumer confidence slid to a 17-year low, according to a survey released last month. Soaring prices for food, fuel and credit have reduced households' spending power as the economy contracts.
New Zealand food prices rose 8.2% in the year ended June 30, the fastest annual increase in 18 years, according to government figures yesterday.
Woolworths and New Zealand grocery cooperative Foodstuffs are awaiting a court ruling on whether they can lift their respective 10% stakes in Warehouse Group, giving them a larger retail footprint and potentially heading off a rival. Warehouse has opened hypermarkets, which include a supermarket and department store.
A slackening New Zealand economy probably won't deter Woolworths chief executive Michael Luscombe from seeking to acquire Warehouse, Deutsche Bank analyst Kristan Walker said, according to a report in the Age newspaper yesterday.
Easter fell in the fiscal third quarter of 2008 and the fourth quarter of 2007.
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