Aug 26 (Reuters) - Woolworths Group announced a A$2
billion ($1.45 billion) share buyback on Thursday and reported a
20% jump in annual profit as lockdowns sparked demand for
Australia's biggest supermarket chain also said it had
recorded strong sales growth so far in the new fiscal year as a
return to lockdown in parts of Australia and New Zealand once
again prompted people to stock up on essentials.
Sales at its Australian food business were up 4.5% in the
first eight weeks of the financial year 2022, but the company
joined smaller rival Coles Group last week in saying
that the trading environment was volatile.
"Higher than anticipated sales growth has resulted from
lockdowns across the country but particularly in our largest
state, New South Wales, as in-home consumption has again
increased," Woolworths said in a statement.
Net profit after tax from continuing operations before
significant items climbed to A$1.50 billion in the year ended
June 27, from A$1.25 billion a year ago.
On top of the buyback that followed the demerger of
Endeavour Group in June, Woolworths also announced a
nearly 15% jump in its final dividend to 55 Australian cents per
($1 = 1.3748 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Soumyajit Saha in
Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Aditya Soni)