Chairman's Report

The past year has been very important in the transformation of Woolworths, by laying down a sound foundation.

Chairman's Report photo

We are building a strong management team, led by Brad, with some key hires across the business. This has been complemented by a renewal of the Board with 50% gender diversity, and key skills added in retailing, international and private equity. Together we will help shape an achievement culture.

We have introduced a new operating model with greater focus on our core businesses of supermarkets and liquor retailing, and an improved governance structure for our portfolio businesses. We announced the closure of Masters and separated EziBuy from BIGW, and are exploring sale options for EziBuy.

We have optimised our store network with the planned closure of 30* stores, and a further 34* stores impaired due to the uncertainty surrounding lease renewals. As a result of the above restructuring, we booked significant items from continuing operations before interest and tax of $958.6 million. We have also pivoted our capex spending on stores towards refurbishing our existing network, with over 80 Australian Supermarkets planned for the upcoming year.

To complement the above, a revitalised incentive structure was introduced for our core businesses which focuses on the key drivers of the business, both short and long term, and rewards management for transformation. These incentive schemes apply uniformly down to store management.

The financial results for the year were disappointing, with sales from continuing operations down marginally to $58.1 billion and net profit after tax from continuing operations attributable to shareholders of Woolworths before significant items down 39.2% to $1.6 billion. As a result, the Board have announced a reduced final dividend of 33 cents per share, down 54.2% on prior year.

Whilst this has been a year of significant progress, there is much to do, and we appreciate your understanding. We are determined to truly transform our business into one that puts the customer at the centre of everything we do.

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Gordon Cairns

  • Excludes BIGW.