Woolies' profits rise

Johannesburg - Retailer Woolworths Holdings [JSE:WHL] reported a 27.3% rise in full-year profit on Thursday, reflecting the resilience of its upscale customer base as the rest of the consumer market struggles with high personal debt.

Woolworths, which sells luxury food products and clothing, said headline earnings per share (EPS) totalled 340.4 cents in the year to end-June compared with 267.3 a year earlier.

That was broadly in line with a 339 cents estimate by Thomson Reuters StarMine, which puts more weight on more recent forecasts and those from top-rated analysts.

Headline EPS, 's primary profit gauge, strips out certain one-off items.

Other retailers in the economy are struggling to grow sales at a faster pace as consumers rein in spending due to high personal debt, unemployment and rising fuel and transport prices.

But Woolworths, similar in style and products to Britain's , is faring better as high income consumers continue to splash out on its upscale groceries and apparel.

Sales rose 23.2% to R35.2bn, with food sales recording 15.4% growth. Sales were also boosted by Woolworths' purchase last year of Australian fashion retailer .

Shares in the -based company are down about 15% so far this year, underperforming a 10% gain in the JSE Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] index.

 
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