Festive season trading fears proven

Link: Late Christmas shopping may disappoint retailers

In the four weeks to 1 January 2005, like-for-like sales at Woolworths were flat against last year, while like-for-like sales at Woolworths Big W declined by 8.0%.

Trevor Bish-Jones, Woolworth’s chief executive said: ‘Although we are disappointed with the sales performance in our retail business, we have made good progress on improving the gross margin and remain confident about the potential of Woolworths and our entertainment businesses.’

House of Fraser also reported a like-for-like performance down 1.3%, compared with the equivalent period last year.

Both retailers predict, however, that pre-tax profits will be in line with last year.

John Coleman, HoF’s chief executive said: ‘We believe that we have delivered a creditable performance in a difficult and challenging retail environment. Tight control of stocks and lower levels of discounting, combined with greater flexibility in our cost base, have offset the financial impact of the lower than anticipated revenues.’

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